Worship, Prayer & Devotion, Service, Small Groups, Share Your Story, Tithe…
These are the expectations, the spiritual disciplines that Jesus expects His followers (His disciples) to do. We call it the Discipleship Path.
The step that we’re talking about today is all throughout the Old and New Testaments. It’s something that is a huge part of being a disciple, and really incorporates all the other steps. Today, we’re talking about worship.
Let’s recap what worship is.
Worship is to show a lot of love for something. In fact, worship is an extreme form of love. It’s a type of unquestioning devotion. For example, if you worship God, the Father and Creator of the universe, then you love God so much that you don’t question Him, like at all. You trust, admire, look up to Him, love Him, walk with, you literally live for Him.
Of course, there are many forms of worship. Going to church is a form of community worship; singing, praying and devotions are all worship; giving in honor of God knowing that it’s all His anyways is an act of worship; serving in honor of God is an act of worship; sharing the Gospel with others is an act of worship.
This is all worship because you are sacrificing, giving of yourself to show your love to God. Not to people, but to show God, Himself, that you love Him. Doing it all for Him.
Jesus says in Matthew 22:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind.’ That’s every ounce of who you are!
Worship is an act of love. It is a demonstration of love. To give this kind of love, many of us need a good reason to give that kind of time, attention, energy and devotion to someone. I am here to tell you today, that God gives us many real good reasons to worship Him.
Last week, we started on this topic and spoke about the Ten Commandments. We found out that we aren’t as good as we think we are. Judging according to the Ten Commandments, we are a lying, thieving, blaspheming, adulterous, disrespectful, murder at heart.
Ouch, I know. But these are the standards that Jesus will judge us on. Not just non-believers, but Christians too. He has been given authority to judge all the earth.
In Matthew 16:27 Jesus’ words were:
“For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.”
The Father’s Love
If you are a believer, Jesus’ judgement is already at work in your life. This is called sanctifying grace. That once we acknowledge and accept God’s grace, God is continually working on us to help us hit the target. But we have a part in the work. Since we miss the mark on a daily basis – saying, thinking, or doing things we should not do, or failing to say, think or do the things we should – we find ourselves in need of forgiveness.
Romans 3:23 – We all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.
1 John 1:9 – But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. He not only lived His entire life as a living sacrifice, but He was also a literal sacrifice for our sins. Taking our punishment of death because the wages of sin is death.
With that gift of forgiveness and freedom, we are meant to be so much more. We’re also meant to be a living sacrifice for God. We’re meant to be loving, compassionate, merciful, giving, honest people. As Jesus expressed it, were created with two main goals in life: To love THE LORD OUR GOD with all that we are, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
God’s desire is that no one parishes. So out of His great love He made a way to redeem us. He made a way to pay our debt. That’s the first reason we need to be worshiping Him!!!
Another reason is God, the Father, is Love. Worship is an act of love to a God who is love.
Today is Father’s Day and we’ve all had father figures in our lives. My Dad passed when I was just 19 years old, but I still remember very vividly that he was a strong, do anything for my sister and I, kind of dad. We knew he loved us very much even though he never said it, not until just months before his death.
God has also blessed me with many other father figures, some while I still had an earthly dad, but many more since. My grandfathers, uncles, a wonderful step-dad, men from my church family.
May I just say, men, you are amazing, whether you are a father or not. Your love never gives up, and I want you to know that we see it. We appreciated you and all that you teach us, the way you provide, keep us safe, and the way you look out for us at all times. So Happy Father’s day to all of you! You deserve a day of your own!
I know that not all of us have had good earthly fathers. I have a couple of people close to me that have a strained relationship with their dads or none at all. I’ve even heard them say, it’s hard to call God “Father” because of the experience they’ve had with an earthly father.
I have to say, if that has been your case, I’m so sorry. My heart goes out to you. You’re earthly father may have failed you, but I promise you that God, in fact God promises you, to never do that to you. He will never fail you. God is Love. He is everything that love means.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love never fails.
God is Love. And He loves you with His whole heart. His love is unconditional, unending, and powerful so much that He died for you! God never stops loving you!
Jesus sheds light on God’s redemptive love by telling three parables.
In the main scripture I want to share with you today, Jesus sheds light on God’s redemptive love by telling three parables. Parables are made up stories that Jesus used to get a point across. However, these parables show how God sees us. You see, no matter what our lives are like right here right now, no matter what we’ve done or where we’ve been, there is always a way to the Father. In fact, He is always waiting and watching, knocking and trying to get us back.
Why Jesus was telling these parables.
And right off the bat, Luke tells us why Jesus was telling these parables.
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
Why were the Pharisees and teachers of religious law so bothered that Jesus associated with these kinds of people? The religious leaders were always careful to stay “clean” according the Old Testament laws. In fact, they took the laws so far that they took extra measures to avoid certain people and situations. They even came up with ritual hand washings.
But Jesus blew that off. In fact, He was touching those who had leprosy, He neglected to wash as in the Pharisees’ prescribed manner, and He completely disregarded their rules about not associating with certain classes of people. He came to offer salvation to sinners and to show that God loves everyone. He didn’t worry about the accusations, and instead continued to go to those who needed Him, regardless of the effect these rejected people might have on His earthly reputation.
1. Lost Sheep: a good shepherd leaves 99 of his sheep to go after one who is lost.
He tells the first parable where a good shepherd leaves 99 of his sheep to go after one who is lost. You may think it’s foolish to leave 99 for 1. However, the shepherd knew that the 99 were safe, but the lost sheep was in danger. Because each sheep was of high value, it was worth it to search diligently for that lost one. Right farmers?
The good shepherd goes until He finds it, then joyfully puts it on His shoulders and brings it home. When he gets home, he calls in all his friends and neighbors saying, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.”
2. Lost Coin: a woman who becomes so obsessed with one lost coin.
The second parable is about a woman who becomes so obsessed with one lost coin. There’s a reason she’s so obsessed. Palestinian women were given 10 silver coins as a wedding gift. Not only did they have high monetary value, they also held sentimental value like that of a wedding ring.
She turns her house upside down until she finds it. We’ve been known to do that at my house – TV remote, my car keys, Matt’s cell phone, Josh’s dog tags. Much like this woman, when we found them, you bet we rejoiced. She called in her friends and neighbors and said, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.”
The point is, she didn’t give up. We were about to give up and let Josh just take the heat for not having his dog tags and then God told Matt where they were, but this woman (who represented God) did not even think to give up.
God’s love for us is so great that He seeks out each one of us. Before you were a believer, before you ever knew Him, He was seeking you. He’s still seeking those who are lost. Every time you get lost from here on out, He’s continuing to seek you. Jesus associated with the sinners – the people who were considered beyond hope – because He wanted to save them.
We may be able to understand a God who would forgive sinners who come to Him for mercy, but a God who tenderly searches for sinners, and then joyfully forgives them? That’s entirely out of the ordinary. But that’s this extraordinary love that I’m talking about! This is the kind of love that prompted Jesus to come to earth in the first place to search for lost people in order to save them. This is the kind of extraordinary love that God has for you!
Now, I wonder what our churches would look like if we shared Jesus’ same love and concern for the lost, diligently seeking them, and then rejoicing when they come to the Savior.
3. Prodigal Son
“prodigal” means = reckless, wasteful.
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
How would you feel if you were this dad – being asked before you were even dead for their inheritance? But the son doesn’t care. He ignores his father’s feelings, and disregards this father’s authority as head of the household. Instead, he wants to establish an identity of his own, apart from his father, by moving to “a distant country.”
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.”
He not only abandons his family’s identity, but he also blew all of his inheritance in wild living. Many college students or young adults can relate to this. They leave home, find a crowd where they can fit in, and with a little peer pressure, they do what would have been unthinkable before college.
At some point, the younger son does begin to realize that his plan isn’t working out so well and that his life has become unmanageable. Let me tell you just how unmanageable. According to the Old Testament law, pigs were unclean animals. This meant that pigs could not be eaten or used for sacrifices. To protect themselves from defilement, Jews would not even touch pigs. So for a Jew to stoop to feeding pigs was a great humiliation. And for this young man to eat food that had been touched by pigs was to be degraded beyond belief. The younger son had truly sunk to the bottom.
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
I’ve got to give him a lot of credit here. He’s not only dying of hunger, but he realizes what he did and how bad it is by saying, “I’m not worthy of even being called your son.” Imagine as a parent, how that feels to hear that, “I’m not even worthy to be called your child.” I love what happens when he does returns.
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
Wow! What a father! What a God! Before we find our way back even close to where we should be, God runs to us, has compassion for us, and throws His arms around us and embraces us. Then, He prepares the party of all parties for the child who has returned home safely.
Knowing how God responds to a child coming back, just think about how God’s heart must fell and ache on a daily basis watching so many of us be so far away from Him.
We can’t forget the older son. He had been working in the field so he didn’t know what was going on. When he gets home, he hears a music and dancing in the house. He’s told, “they are celebrating your brothers return.” Listen for his reaction. I think we can easily find ourselves responding like he did.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
The older brother is having a hard time excepting his brother’s return. I get that. People who repent after leading notoriously sinful lives are often held in suspicion, in many cases for good reason.
What each of these stories are telling us is that we should celebrate!
Celebrate like the angels in heaven when an unbeliever repents and turns to God. Accept them wholeheartedly and give them the support and encouragement that they need to grow in Christ. Otherwise we are just like the Pharisees, who are angry and resentful that sinners were being welcomed into God’s Kingdom. After all, the Pharisees must have thought, “We have sacrificed and done so much for God.”
How easy it is to resent God’s gracious forgiveness of others whom we consider to be far worse sinners than ourselves. But the Father forgives because that’s what you do when you are love. The older son refused to forgive because he was full of bitterness. But his resentment made him just as lost to the Father’s love as his younger brother had been.
In the first two stories, the seeker actively looked for the coin and the sheep, which could not return by themselves. But in this story, the father watched and waited for the son to come back to his senses. The sheep was lost because it foolishly wandered away. The coin was lost through no fault of its own, and the son left out of selfishness. God’s great love though reaches out and finds sinners no matter why or how they got lost.
God’s love is constant. It is patient and welcoming. He will always search for us and give us opportunities to respond, but He will not force us to come to Him. However, He never stops wooing, knocking, waiting for us to return.
That’s how extraordinary God’s love is! That’s why we should be so grateful and worship and honor the God we have. True worship comes from your heart. True worship is your heart. It’s living to honor and obey God, it’s being a living sacrifice. It’s understanding what God has done for us and what He continues to do for us.
Remember if being a disciple is imitating the life of the teacher, then being a disciple of Jesus Christ means we learn to live with a different value system than the world. We forgive and love because we are forgiven and loved. In one form or another, we’ve all been the younger son, and we all need a Savior who knows we are worth it.
So let’s take away this from the message today. Let’s first be grateful. Then let’s be the Church. Let’s model Jesus’ style. Let’s be the disciples He’s calling us to be and seek those who are lost, invite them to church, love them even if they say no, and never give up on them. They matter too. They too are loved by the God who is love.
Let’s do all of this to worship the One True God because worship is an act of love to a God who is love.