Worship Part 3 - All of Life as Worship
April 2, 2017 Speaker: Reid Strahan Series: The Spirit Filled Church
Topic: Worship Passage: Romans 12:1–1
We are in a series called “The Spirit Filled Church”. We talked about how worship is an integral part of being blessed, and happy, and how as we worship we experience the light of God’s presence and the smile of God’s face.
This morning I want to talk to you about another component of our worship that is especially sweet to God and is absolutely crucial to your relationship with him. And that is worshiping God by offering your whole self and every area of your life, in a complete and unconditional surrender to him. You hold nothing back from God, but give yourself up, absolutely to him. You abandon yourself completely to God. You risk everything and jump into his arms.
Romans 12:1 says, “I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercies, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship”. Present or give yourselves as a sacrifice to God. In the Old Testament the sacrifice was slain then totally consumed on the alter. We remain alive yet we give ourselves in this total or complete way, to be a living sacrifice to God. This is how you are to worship God!”. Some translations say this is your reasonable worship, or you spiritual worship. But the point is...
Your whole life must worship God! Everything about you, everything you do IN your body and WITH your body is to worship and adore and please God!
I grew up hearing an old hymn played on the record player in our home, “Is your all on the alter”. “Is your all on the alter of sacrifice laid? Your heart, does the Spirit control? You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest, as you yield him your body and soul”. That describes this Romans 12:1 kind of worship.
The 1828 Webster dictionary says “Worship is to honor someone with extreme love and extreme submission”.
The word worship is from two old English words, worth, and ship. Worth means something is of great value and ship means “having to do with” Friendship means having to do with friends. Worship means having to do with great worth.
When we worship we are saying God has worth to me. God has great value to me. We communicate that by praising God, by singing to God, BUT worship also means God is worthy in a way that demands my all. He is worthy of my devotion, my sacrifice, of anything he would ask me to do or go through. He is worthy of me loving him with all my heart and soul and mind and strength, no matter what! No matter how things go, no matter what I may lose or gain, whether I lose my job, or house, or my friends, through all kinds of blessing and through all kinds of suffering and pain, he is worthy of it all.
There is a certain quality about these kind of worshipers that is evident in two minutes when you are around them. You can tell that obeying and pleasing God is more important to them than anything else in life. They may lead a very normal life in their work or home and family life, but there is a passion within them to honor God, to love God, to know God. There’s nothing phony about it. It comes from a heart that has sees God as worthy! A Spirit filled church will be full of people who worship God in this all-out sort of way!
We see an example of this kind of worship in Acts 20:24. Paul said, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God”. Paul said, “God is of so much value to me that I would not let my own life get in the way of finishing what he asked me to do, even if it kills me”.
Paul begins Romans 12:1 by saying, “I URGE you brothers and sisters”! The amplified says, “I appeal to you and beg of you”. What I am about to say about worship, is extremely important!
Then before he tells us HOW we are to worship, he tells us again WHY we worship. That is because of the PROFOUND MERCIES and benefits of God!
Worship is not some great thing we do, to somehow get God to like us, or forgive us, or accept us! Worship is not climbing 5,000 steps on your knees, or checking into a monastery for the rest of your life to gain merit with God! We do not worship FOR acceptance and approval; we worship FROM acceptance and approval. Worship FOR acceptance is bondage, worship FROM acceptance, is liberty and joy.
Worship is something we do GLADLY! We want to do it, because of the mercies of God which we already received! Our response is something like, “If there is only something I could do for God, for all he has done for me!”
Prior to this verse Paul had explained the awful condition of men and women apart from God, how God’s wrath was being revealed against the sinfulness of men, how all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, how we could do nothing to save ourselves, YET how God provided a righteousness for us as a free gift through faith in Christ. God put us in Christ and made us heirs of life. Christ set us free from sin and the practice of sinning. He send the Holy Spirit into our hearts to confirm to us that we are sons of God. No longer are we slaves serving him out of fear but sons serving him out of love and reverence. He released us from condemnation and gave us the power of the Spirit to live a new life. And nothing can separate us from the love of God.
In view of all this goodness and love and mercy, we present our whole self as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.
Paul specifically says here we are to worship God with our bodies. We worship God by what we look at with our eyes, what we do with our hands, what we think about in our minds, what we say with our tongues, where we go with our feet, in our eating and drinking, with our sexuality. Everything we do in our bodies and with our bodies is to be holy and pleasing to the Lord.
When you use your hands to type an email, or send a text that is pleasing to God you are worshiping him. You worship God when you prepare food for your family or for someone in need, when you use your hands to help someone, when you lay hands on someone to pray for them, when you use your arms and hands to hug someone who needs an embrace, when you raise your hands in worship and adoration. Your hands are to be dedicated for the Lord’s use!
You worship God when you use your tongue to pray, or to bless someone with peace, or share a Bible verse, or a word of prophecy, when you bless those who have wronged you. You worship God when you use your lips to speak with thankfulness. Hebrews 13:15 “Through him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of lips that give thanks to his name... for with such sacrifices God is well pleased”.
You worship God by keeping yourself sexually pure. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:13 “The body is not meant for immorality but for the Lord..”. The young person or the single person worships God, by waiting till marriage for sexual relations. The married person worships God, by being faithful to their spouse.
Your mind is to worship by what you think about. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things”. Have you given him your mind? Really. You talk to some people you can tell their minds have not been thinking God pleasing thoughts.
I want to move on to share 5 examples of this whole person kind of worship. I consider these some of the greatest acts of this kind of worship in the Bible.
Jesus. Philippians 2 says that Jesus humbled himself to his Father, by “becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross!”. More than likely none of us will be called to an act of obedience that results in death. But the willingness and readiness of Jesus to go to death on a cross, shows us something profound about worship. It is without reservation, without condition.
Paul himself lived with this same kind of worship. He said, “that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death”. He didn’t say, “God better treat me right or I’m finished with him”. Worship is seeing God as so worthy, so good and so merciful, that NO level of obedience, for any amount of time, is too extreme.
Abraham’s obedience to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice was one of the greatest acts of worship in the Bible. He had waited for decades to have a son! God had promised him and Sarah a son yet it never seemed to happen. Year after year they waited for and longed for a child. God had made all these fantastic promises to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and that through a son born to him all the nation of the earth would be blessed. And that would happen! It was through Abraham’s son that Jesus Christ would be born into the world. So finally Isaac was born!
But yet when Isaac was a young man perhaps a young teen, God told Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love- Isaac – and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you”.
Abraham went clear to the point of taking out his knife to slay his son, when God stopped him and said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy”, “Do not do anything to harm him”. “Now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from me, your son, your only son.”
Regardless of the difficulties we might have with that story, worship is letting God know that you do not withhold anyone or anything from him. Delesslyn Kennebrew said, “True worship is defined by the priority we place on who God is in our lives and where God is on our list of prioities”. When he sees your readiness to offer up the most precious people and the most precious things in your life to him, that is true worship.
Job bowed down to worship God when he lost everything. He lost his sheep, his camels were all stolen, a house collapsed on his children were all killed. The next verse says, “At this Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell down to the ground in worship…!” “He said, ‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised”. Or “Blessed be the name of the Lord”.
Job worshiped God when he lost everything, because he saw God as bigger and more central, than everything he possessed, including family. He viewed God as worthy of worship.
When you can say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord” when you have lost everything, even a child, that is worship. It shows that, to you, God is worthy to be praised even after tragedy and disaster and loss, when you don’t understand your life at all.
Another great act of worship in the Bible is Paul and Silas singing hymns to God in prison at midnight after being flogged. Acts 16:23 says, “After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully….He put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in stocks. Their bodies had been SEVERLY flogged. Their feet were in stocks. Their bodies were racked with pain. Their bodies were locked in a severely uncomfortable or even torturous position. Yet verse 25 says, “They were praying and singing hymns of praise to God”. How could they do that?!
I think it’s because they had already offered their bodies to God as a living sacrifice. They did not view being bloody and beaten as something that should stop their worship! That sounds like extreme thinking to us, but it lead to extreme joy and worship for them!
Then consider the poor widow in Mark 12:41 “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on”.
This is also one of the greatest acts of worship in the Bible. She had so committed the care of her body to God that she voluntarily gave all she had to live on. She saw God as worthy of her last 2 cents. And she saw God as worthy of her trust. Trusting God in our needs and our problems says something about the worth we place on God. This is true worship to trust God in the extremities of life.
When we say the word “worship” we think first of singing or praise or perhaps lifting our hands. But these outward expressions of worship are to flow out of this complete offering of ourselves to God! They can’t replace it. There is no substitute for giving your entire self as a living sacrifice. Singing, bowing down before him on our knees, lifting our hands clapping our hands or shouting praises to God, playing our instruments, complete the experience of worship. These things are VERY meaningful when connected to a life sacrificed to God. But when they are disconnected to a whole life of worship, they are shallow and phony.
I want to close by sharing the story of Polycarp. Polycarp was a leader in the church at Smyrna, about 130 years after the death of Jesus. There was a great persecution of Christians at this time, under the reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Seeing the animals and the impending tortures, some broke down and surrendered their salvation. (But) Polycarp was undisturbed and determined to stay in the city of Smyrna, even though his friends pleaded with him to escape. Three days before his capture, while at prayer, he saw in a vision, the pillow under his head suddenly burst into flame, which he interpreted to his friends as foretelling that for Christ’s sake he would give up his life by fire. When he was captured, Herod, the chief of police, tried to persuade him: “What harm is there in saying “Caesar is Lord”, and sacrificing to him – and so be saved?”. Polycarp said, “I will not do what you advise”.
When Polycarp entered the stadium, a voice from heaven said, “Be strong and play the man, Polycarp!”. Many of our people who were their heard the voice. The Roman proconsul tried to dissuade him, saying, “Swear by Caesar!” Recant and say, “Away with the Atheists”. Take the oath and I will set you free. Curse Christ!”. But Polycarp replied, “For 86 years I have been his servant, and he has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”...”Listen carefully, “I am a Christian, and if you wish to learn the teachings of Christianity, choose a day and you will hear them”.
The proconsul said, “I have wild beasts. I’ll throw them at you if you don’t change your mind!”. “Call them”, he replied, “For we cannot change our mind...”. Again (the proconsul said) “If you disregard the beasts, I’ll have you consumed by fire unless you repent!”. But Polycarp declared “You threaten a fire that burns for a time and is quickly extinguished. Yet a fire that you know nothing about awaits the wicked in the judgment to come and in eternal punishment.”
A general shout arose (from the crowd) that Polycarp should be burned alive. As they were going to nail him to the grid for the fire, he said, “Let me be, for he who enables me to endure the flames will also enable me to remain in them unmoved, without nails”. So they bound him hands behind is back, like a noble ram from a great flock, as a whole burnt offering acceptable to Almighty God.
Polycarp prayed. “O Father of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, through whom we know you, I bless you this day and hour, that I may, with the martyrs, share in the cup of Christ….. “May I be received among them today as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, according to your divine fulfillment. For this reason I praise you for everything, I bless and glorify you through the eternal high priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be the glory to you and the Holy Spirit, both now and in the ages to come. Amen.”
That is worship! He literally offered his body as a living sacrifice! You won’t lose your life in such a way! But the same degree of devotion, the same sense that God is worthy of your life, the same sense that God has been so good to you that you could not possible turn away from him, should mark our lives too! And the same praise and blessing to God, should flow from our hearts and our lips in the most extreme trials of life!
Father, we are thrilled by your mercies and your love to us. We gladly offer ourselves to you today as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to you. We come this morning to you in total abandonment, total surrender.
I pray for those here today who have never really yielded themselves wholly to you. May you move their hearts to do that today. Give them understanding of your mercies to them that would lead them to this kind of worship.
Lord we want to be a church that is filled with your Spirit. We want to be a church that worships you with our whole hearts and our whole lives. Amen.
More in The Spirit Filled Church
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July 2, 2017Filled With the Holy Spirit
June 25, 2017Equipped By the Spirit