James Meehan - What Is a Life of Worship?
- Get involved
Well, hello and welcome to week two of our series: "What Difference Do I Make"? where we are going on a journey together to discover what it is that we were created to do as human beings and followers of Jesus. Because no matter where you are, no matter where you've been, no matter how old you are, what we know to be true is that God created you with and for a purpose. And that when we can begin to discover the purpose that we were created for, when we start to step into our calling, then we can truly live lives of significance. Now, throughout this six-week series, we're starting by exploring this Hebrew word abad, A-B-A-D that gets translated into three different English words: work, worship, and serve. And those three different English words I think help paint a picture of what it is that we have been called by God to do.
Last week, we looked at what it means for us to have been called by our Creator to work with Him and for Him. This week, we're gonna talk about what it means to worship our Redeemer. And then next week, we're gonna look at how each of us has been called by our King to serve. And with that word, abad, and those three ideas, we've also been kind of coming back to the two greatest commandments that Jesus taught. Jesus is saying, "This is what matters most when you choose to follow Me". And that can be found in Matthew's gospel in chapter 22 verses 37 through 40, where Jesus says, "Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your might. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments".
Jesus is saying that everything in the Bible, that's what the law and the prophets is like sort of short for, everything in the Bible, the entirety of the Old Testament, everything that's been written before, points to those two big ideas: loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and loving your neighbor as yourself. And this is what we have been invited to be a part of. Now, last week, we looked at all of that together as the work that we've been called to do alongside our Creator. This week, we're gonna focus on the first of those two commandments: to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. That's why the big idea for this week's message is that your Redeemer has called you to worship. Your Redeemer has called you to worship, because who is God? God is our Redeemer. And He wants to rescue us from sin. And we are all sinners that have been saved by His grace. We have been saved for the purpose of worshiping Him.
And as we continue on this message, we're gonna talk a little more about what that actually means. 'Cause I think sometimes we can settle for an understanding of worship that is actually so much less than what God wants us to embrace. It's so much less than all the good things that come from it that God wants us to experience. And so to take us on this journey to better understand what it is we've been called by God to do and what it means to worship Him, we're gonna go all the way back to the Old Testament in the Book of Exodus, where we're gonna listen in on a conversation between God and Moses. Now, the quick context for you is that at this point in history, God's people, the nation of Israel, are living as slaves in Egypt, where for generations, when they wake up, when they go to bed, after generation of generation, their entire world is doing projects for Pharaoh, the Egyptian ruler.
And at some point in this journey, there have become so many Israelites that Pharaoh, the leaders of Egypt, become threatened because they're afraid that like, what if all of these Jewish slaves revolt and tried to overthrow us? So here's what we'll do. We will put a plan in motion to kill all of the young boys under the age of two. And this just so happened to be at the time when Moses was just born. But God had a plan, to rescue His people from slavery and Egypt, and Moses was meant to play a pivotal role in that plan. Because the thing you have to understand about Moses is that he was born as a slave, but then miraculously, God arranged it for Him to actually be raised in Pharaoh's own household, for him to basically be raised as a prince of Egypt. And then after he grew up and began to realize the horrible things being done to his own people, Moses tried to bring justice into his own hands.
And so he actually murdered an Egyptian and he tried to cover it up. But other people knew that he had done it. And so because He was afraid of the consequences that were gonna fall on him, he ran and he spent the next 40 years living as a shepherd in the wilderness. And it's in that time of being a shepherd in the wilderness, living in exile, that God calls to Moses from a burning bush. And this is what we read in Exodus chapter three, verse seven. It says, "The Lord told him, 'I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering.'"
For some of you, this is what you need to pay attention to is the fact that God is aware of what you're going through. He sees the pain that you're experiencing, He hears the cries that you are bringing out to Him, and God cares. And even if in this moment it seems like maybe He's distant or maybe He's absent, please know that God sees you. God hears you and God loves you. And even if He isn't rescuing you from this current situation in the way that you want Him to, I promise you that God has a plan in place to bring you out of whatever that is so that you can come out on the other side, stronger, better, and more faithful to Him, because that's exactly what God did with His people who were enslaved in Egypt.
Continue on in verse eight, we read, this is God speaking: "I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey, the land with the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and Jebusites now live. Look, the cry of the people of Israel has reached me. And I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them". Now, God is saying this to Moses, "Go, for, I am sending you to Pharaoh, because you must lead my people, Israel, out of Egypt". From the very beginning, our Creator has called us to work with Him and for Him in His good plans for the world. And this is exactly what we see here in this moment that God is calling Moses to partner with Him in His plan to free his people from slavery. And in the same way that God called Moses then, God is calling us now. He calls us to work with Him and He calls us to worship Him.
Now what's interesting is in verse 11, we get to see Moses' response to God. And what we're told is that Moses protested to God. Like, it's not just, I've got questions. I'm a little bit insecure, but he's actually protesting to God. He's pushing back on God. And here's what he says. He says, "Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt"? And now I think it's one thing to read this in the Bible and think, golly, that Moses guy is such a chump. Like, are you kidding me? God is speaking to you from a burning bush. He's calling you to make a difference. He wants you to be a part of something incredible. There's gonna be so many miracles that God does through you. Why are you protesting? Like, don't you want to make a difference? But how often do opportunities present themselves where we could step into it?
We could do something significant, we could make a difference that is bigger than ourselves but instead of stepping into it, we hesitate. We hold back, because we don't think we have what it takes, or maybe we're more focused on what would happen if we failed. Or maybe we think, ah, somebody else would be better to do that job. And sure there are gonna be times where it would be better for somebody else to step in and do that thing. But there's also gonna be times where God is calling you, where He's inviting you to be a part of His plans, where He wants you to step out in faith to trust that He is who He says He is. And that if He is calling you to do something that He's going to be with you every step of the way to make sure you have everything you need to do everything that He asks you to, because that's exactly what God said to Moses in verse 12. This is God's answer to Moses' protests. He says, "I will be with you. I will be with you".
God doesn't spend a whole lot of time trying to convince Moses of all of the reasons He called him, because this has never been about Moses and it's never actually about us. Because God doesn't need us to accomplish the things that He wants to accomplish, but He invites us anyways, because He knows that there are few things more significant than getting to partner with the God of heaven and earth in His good plans for the world. Because at the end of the day, God's gonna do what God's gonna do. And the question is, are we gonna trust Him enough to step in and answer when He calls us? Because no matter what, if God's calling you, you can trust that He will be with you. He continues to say, "And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you. When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship. You will abad God at this very mountain".
You see what God is sending Moses to do is to bring his people out of slavery so that they can worship God, because that has been God's plan for His creation, for us as human beings from the beginning. For us to work with Him and for us to worship Him. Now, what is worship? Because it can be really easy to reduce worship to singing songs for 20 minutes on Wednesday night and the weekend. But the truth is, is that worship is a lot more than that. Worship is expressing honor and devotion to God. Worship is giving God our very best. It is showing God that we honor Him, we respect Him. We love Him for what He's done and for who He is. And now it's very true that one of the most common ways that we can worship is by singing songs to God, to declare how good He is and how much He loves us. Not because He needs it, but because we need it. We oftentimes need to be reminded that God is with us, that God is for us, and that God wants us to be a part of His plans for the world.
Because from the very beginning, over and over again, we see story after story, example after example of God calling people like you and me, people who are insecure, people who are inadequate, people who are hesitant, and God still uses them to do incredible things, because it's often through people like that, that God most gets to show off just how amazing He is. And He wants us to worship Him. He wants us to give Him our very best, to express honor and devotion to Him, to love Him with all that we are, our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Because that is the first and most important commandment: to be faithful to Him. And it's interesting because when we read in the New Testament the Apostle Paul writing in Romans chapter 12, I think He does a really cool job of helping us see just how big and all-encompassing worship really is.
Starting in verse one of Romans chapter 12, he tells us that, "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". This is your true and proper worship. This is what it means to show God that you honor Him and you're devoted to Him, by offering your bodies as a living sacrifice, why? Because of the mercy that God has shown us, because of all of the ways that God has offered us, forgiveness and grace over and over again, because just like our Redeemer sent Moses to bring his people out of slavery in Egypt, our Redeemer, God, showed up in history as Jesus to rescue us from our slavery to sin and death so that we could be made right with Him, that our relationship with Him could be fixed and we could truly worship Him.
And then in verse two of chapter 12, Paul goes on to say, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you'll be able test and approve what God's will is, His good, pleasing, and perfect will". If you've ever wondered what it is that You're called to do, if you've ever wanted to know what God's will for your life is, if you wanted to figure out how do I know if I'm supposed to do this thing or that thing, Paul is telling us that the secret to understanding God's will is by offering your body as a living sacrifice, by devoting every fiber of your being to worshiping God; to show Him how much you love Him; to thank Him for all that He's done for you, for all the ways that He has currently working in you, for all of the things that God's still wants to do through you, because He wants you to work with Him and for Him. And He wants you to worship Him by offering your body as a sacrifice.
And that's not like some weird thing where you actually have to like sacrifice yourself, like physically in the old school way that people would sacrifice animals. No, no, no, it's not that at all. It's giving up your way of doing things so that you can pick up God's way of doing things. It's choosing to live like Jesus for the sake of others. It's choosing to put their needs before your own. When we do those things, what happens is we stop looking like the rest of the world and then God starts to change the way we think. He starts to change the way that we see ourselves, others in the world. And as that happens, our lives will be different. And every step of the way, God reveals a little bit more of what His will for our lives is, the calling that He's given us, the purpose we have been created for. Because worship is more than the songs we sing. Worship is the life we live.
And so, yes, sing songs of worship to God, because that is a powerful way to express our honor and devotion to Him. But really at the end of the day, what it comes back to is giving our very best, giving all that we are to Him, choosing to love Him with every part of who we are, heart, soul, mind, and strength. I love what Paul says in Colossians chapter three, verses 23 and 24, when He says, "Whatever you do, whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward, because it is the Lord Christ you are serving".
What is worship? Worship is expressing honor and devotion to God. It's not just the songs we sing, but it's the life we live. And your Redeemer has called you to worship. He has called you to bring your very best to Him, to show Him and to show the world just how good He is, just how much He loves us, because He is our Redeemer and He wants to rescue us from sin. And we get to be a part of His good plans for the world by choosing to answer the calling that He gives us. And so my hope and my prayer for you would be that you would have the courage to say yes when God calls you. And if you're the kind of person where even after hearing all of this, you've still got questions. You've still got hesitations. You're not really sure where to start because all of that sounds really good in theory, but what does it look like in practice?
Well, I would just suggest that you begin with prayer. That is the spiritual practice that we are going to put into action this series, where we're simply having conversations with God, because that's what prayer is. It's talking to God like a friend. It's reaching out to our Heavenly Father because we know He loves us. And we put together a Bible plan Called Become Like Jesus prayer that is specifically designed to help you learn how to pray. Because as we become people of prayer, as we continually connect with God through prayer, our relationship with Him will get stronger and we will become more like Jesus. And it will become so much easier for us to learn how to love Him well, and to hear His voice when He calls to us, so that we can have the courage to do what Moses did; to say yes to the calling of God; to be a part of His plans for the world; to become a person who truly does make a difference.
And so that's where I would start with you. For others of you, maybe the place that you start is you just talk about this idea with the people in your small group, where you ask them questions like, hey, what do you think I'm supposed to do with my life? What is one way I can worship God? What is one way that you think I could actually make a difference in the world? And you allow them to speak into what it is that you're trying to navigate and you learn from their wisdom. Whatever it is, I hope that you'll take a step, that you'll choose to trust God; and that when He calls, you will answer.
Father God, we thank You so much for the fact that You love us enough, that You call us, even though you don't need us, why? Because You want us to be a part of Your good plans for the world. And so, God, I pray that all of us would listen to the sound of Your voice, that we would be willing to respond in obedience to whatever it is that You ask us to do. That we would choose to not just sing songs to You, but give our entire lives for You. That as we do, God, You would change the way we think, You would change the way we see the world, ourselves, and others so that we could better understand Your will for our lives. And so, God, as You call, I pray that we answer.
Now, maybe there's some of you right now, who, as you are hearing this message, you realize that you don't actually have a relationship with God. Maybe you've been going to church for a long time. Maybe you've been watching a lot of different messages on YouTube and you keep finding yourself coming back, but you're not really sure why. Because you don't know God, but you want to. This is the good news of Jesus is that God loves you and me so much that He became a human being 2,000 years ago. To die on a cross for your sins and for mine so that anybody who puts their trust in Him could be saved. That we could have our sins forgiven, that our relationship with God could be fixed. That we could really know God, that we could understand how much He loves us.
This is why the gospel is good news, because God was willing to die for you and for me, but God did not stay dead. No, as a matter of fact, He rose from the grave. That's why we celebrate Easter, the greatest event in history, because it was on that day when Jesus walked out of His own tomb and He left death, hell, and sin behind Him so that we could follow in His footsteps and enter into eternal life with our Heavenly Father. And maybe that's why you're here today, to receive the grace of God, to say yes to the invitation of Jesus, to put your trust in Him so that you could be made new. If that is you, all you gotta do, the Bible says, is to believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you will be saved.
So if that is you and you want a relationship with Jesus, then now is the time. Today is the day that you begin a relationship with Him. So if you wanna be made new, if you want God's grace and His forgiveness and His mercy, if that's you, then simply lift your hand right now, all over the place. If you're saying yes to a relationship with Jesus, if you're watching this online, type it in the comments below. Say, "Jesus is I give You my life". There's no better choice you could make than that one there to say yes to the grace of God, to be made new. And as people are making that choice, saying yes to a relationship with Jesus, all of us together are gonna pray out loud alongside them. Because here at Switch, we're a family. And even though you have to make that choice on your own, you don't have to pray alone. So out loud altogether, repeat after me:
Dear Jesus, forgive me. I'm turning from my sin. I'm turning towards You. I need Your grace. I need Your mercy. I need Your love. Today, I give You my life. In Jesus' name, Amen and Amen and Amen!