WORSHIP: Celebrating Our Relationship With God!

WORSHIP: Celebrating Our Relationship With God!  

Last week – started a new series on renewing our Commitment to Christ as a Church Family.  Church leaders realized that in our Stewardship Campaign – essential to focus on the Stewardship of our whole lives – not just our Finances.

We’re focusing on how we can work together as a church family to build people up to reach the fullness of life that Jesus was willing to die on the Cross to make available for us – right now!  Give thanks to Dave Jacobus for getting our Life Stewardship series off by looking at ways we can build ourselves, our church family, and our community up – by deepening our commitment to Prayer.

Today we’re going to look at how we can build people up – by deepening our commitment to Worship.  Worship has a lot of different aspects – Music, Sermons, Prayers…  At its core – Worship is a celebration of our relationship with God and an intentional commitment to keep growing, improving, and strengthening our relationship with God.

I believe one of the best summaries to help us celebrate our relationship with God is found in the 23rd Psalm.  One of the best loved passages in the whole Bible – makes it clear and easy to understand why we should be excited about growing in our relationship with God.

Psalm 23:1-6 (KJV)    The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever!

When we worship God – we give thanks for the love and care God provides for us.  First gift David reminds us that God gives us – is CALM.  We can live without fear and anxiety.  Huge gift in a world where we have to face fears of School Shootings, Drug Epidemic, Health Care Crisis.  Problems don’t go away – but we have a Shepherd Who cares about us and can guide us through all of these mine fields.

CALM:  TRUSTING  GOD  CARES  About  ME

David started his life as a shepherd.  He understood what a huge responsibility it is to care for sheep.  One of the first lessons he learned – is that sheep need a lot of help.  They can’t see a very big picture.  Without a shepherd, most of them would die – starvation, predators, wandering off a cliff.

David knew how important a shepherd was in leading the sheep to the essentials they needed for their lives.  When sheep knew they could trust their shepherd they could be calm. 

Psalm 23:1-2 (LB)    Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!   He leads me to rest in green meadow grass and quiet streams.  He restores my soul and gives me new strength.

It’s easy for sheep to take for granted all the things the shepherd does for them.  And the same is true for us.  That’s why in worship – we take time to focus our attention – and celebrate all the things God does for us.

I can be calm – because God meets my needs.  God provides food for me to eat, a roof over my head, finances to pay my bills, people who love and care for me…  Worship helps us to take time to express our gratitude.  Lord – I appreciate You looking out for me.

Worship also helps us to work through the things that are bothering us.  God understands that all of us have plenty of problems to think about.  Are my kids OK?  Are my grandkids OK?  Is the stock market going to make my finances better – or wipe me out?

We all have plenty of problems.  The important thing to figure out – is what to do with them?  The natural response is to worry.  But how much good does worrying do?  A much better response is to bring our problems to the Shepherd we know is watching over us.

I can tell you that several times every day – I share with God the problems that are on my mind.  I am really glad that I can be honest with God and tell Him exactly how I feel.  And even though God doesn’t solve my problems right away – I have seen over the years that I can be calm – because I can trust that God is working on it.

Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG/LB)    Don’t  worry.  Instead of worrying, pray. Tell God what you need.   If you do this, you will experience God’s peace.  It’s wonderful what happens when trust in Jesus displaces worry as the foundation for your life.

Like Paul I can definitely say that life is a whole lot better when trust in Jesus is my foundation instead of worry.

Worship helps us to build up the Calm in our lives – by trusting that the Good Shepherd cares about all of my needs and all of my problems.  Worship also helps us to build up clarity in our lives – by trusting that the Good Shepherd will help us to find the right path in a confusing world. 

CLARITY:  Finding the  RIGHT  PATH  in a  CONFUSING  WORLD 

Life in the 21st century is interesting.  We have more choices than ever – which also creates more confusion than ever.  In the past you had 2 colors of telephones to choose from – black or brown – and they could sit on a table or hang on a wall.  Now we have dozens of kinds of phones to choose from and dozens of different providers.  In the past there were 3 channels to choose from ABC, CBS, or NBC.  I don’t even want to try to guess how many channels you could choose from today.  Not only do we have more channels to choose from – we also have more opinions on what is right and wrong to choose from.  When you watched Ozzie and Harriett or Father Knows Best – everyone had pretty strong agreement about what is right and wrong.  Today – there is almost no agreement on television.  Fortunately, there is still a Good Shepherd we can rely on to help us find the right path.

Psalm 23:3 (NLT)    God guides me on the right path!

Worship helps us to stop and come back to the Shepherd for guidance.  Can you help me to refocus my life on the right path?  Show me how I can build up integrity in my life.  Give me the strength I need to stay faithful in my marriage.  Help me to live out the values that I say I believe in.

Worship is a time that we turn away from all the distractions in life, TV, Facebook, the Internet, and turn toward the Good Shepherd.  In worship – we have a chance to refocus our lives on the things that are true and right – the things that are excellent.  The things that we would like for someone to be able to stand up and say at our funeral – because they made the choice to follow the Good Shepherd. 

Philippians 4:8 (NLT/MSG)    Dear brothers and sisters, help each other to focus your thoughts on what is true and right, lovely and admirable.  Emphasize the things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Bring out the best in each other!

Worship helps us to receive Clarity from God – and to encourage each other to stay on the right path.  Every day – every single one of us is facing plenty of temptations.  When we worship God – we give God a chance to bring out the best in us – and to open our lives to being God’s partners in bringing out the best in each other.

Worship builds up our lives – by plugging us in to God’s gifts of Calm, Clarity, and Courage. 

COURAGE:  God is With Me In the  HARD  TIMES  of  LIFE 

As Christians – we all struggle with the big question – of why a Good God allows bad things to happen in our lives.  We know that the basic answer is that Adam and Eve sinned.  But that leaves us pretty unsatisfied.  Why do I have to suffer because of their stupid mistake?

God doesn’t give us all of the answers that we would like.  But He does give us the answer we need to get us through all of the bad things that come in to our lives and our world.  God doesn’t keep all the bad things out of our lives – but He does go with us through every problem – even our final problem of death. 

Psalm 23:4    Even when I walk through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for I know that You are close beside me, guarding me, and guiding me all the way.  You are with me when I have to face my worst enemies. 

I would love to be able to tell you that if you pray hard enough and believe strong enough – you will never have another problem.  God doesn’t promise us no problems.  In fact, Jesus said in John 16:33 we are all going to have problems – guaranteed.

What gives us the hope and courage we need to press through our problems – is trusting that the Good Shepherd is with us and that the Good Shepherd will bring something positive out of every problem that we go through.

Romans 8:28 (NLT)    We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.

When you look back over your life journey – I think you will see that the times that were the most painful in your life were also the times that pushed you to turn to God for help the most.  When life is easy – it is easy to drift away from God.  When life gets hard – it is whole lot easier to drop to our knees and cry out to God to help us.

Worship is our opportunity to stop and celebrate how our relationship with God changes everything in our lives.  God gives us the Calm we need to replace worry with trust.  God gives us the Clarity we need to choose the right path – in a world that can no longer show us what is right.  God gives us the Courage we need for every problem we will ever go through – because we know that the Good Shepherd is with us all the way.

Worship also helps us to celebrate the Confidence God offers us by – making sure that we know He will lead us all the way to heaven. 

CONFIDENCE: God Will Make Sure I  MAKE  It to  HEAVEN!  

David knew that he wasn’t going to make it to heaven on his own strength.  He had made plenty of mistakes that he couldn’t fix.  David knew that the only way that he was going to make it to heaven – was because of God’s goodness and unfailing love.  I know that I need that same confidence – because I have made a lot of mistakes also.  It’s good to know that God never gave up on David.  God never gives up on me.  And God never gives up on you.

On Easter – we celebrated the crystallization of God’s goodness and unfailing love.  John 3:16 makes sure that we never forget why Jesus was willing to go to the Cross and die for sinners like me and you.  God loves all of us.  And God is committed to doing everything He can to help us make it to that new home in heaven.

Psalm 23:6 (LB)    I know that God’s goodness and unfailing love will be with me every day of my life.  After I die, I know that I will live again in the house of the LORD forever! 

And the amazing thing that having confidence in knowing that the Good Shepherd is going to take care of us, even after we die, is that it sets us free to concentrate on living our lives to the very fullest.

Romans 12:1 (NLT/MSG)   Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your best to God everyday.  Giving thanks to God by living a holy life is the best way to worship Him.

This morning, we are asking God to help us grow as His partners in building people up – you and me and our community – so that everyone can reach their full potential.

Worship is God’s gift to help us to grow in our relationship with the Good Shepherd.  It reminds us that Jesus was willing to sacrifice everything so that we can receive the amazing gifts of abundant and eternal life!   

John 10:11 (NLT)    Jesus said, I am the Good Shepherd!  The Good Shepherd sacrifices His life for His sheep [so that they can have abundant and eternal life]!

 

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