James Merritt - Worship, Right From the Heart
This past December, Time Magazine released this cover. It said 2020, had a big red X over that number and a simple phrase, "The worst year ever". I'll tell you, that's the story of the year you do not want to ever revisit. And I don't mind telling you, it sure feels that way to many of us. I've said to other people, I've lived a good while now, and it's the worst year of my life. In more ways than I could even go into, that's why I'm so glad that year is over. I mean, I've live more than six decades and during that time, I've seen a lot of pain, I've seen a lot of problems, seen a lot of pressure.
I have never in my life, lived through a year that was as taxing and as tiring and as trying as 2020. Can I get a witness to that? I mean, it's just unbelievable, but listen recently, listened to this, 28 top historians from Ivy league schools were asked whether 2020 was actually the worst year ever. Here's what they said. They said, "The worst year ever by far, was actually 1348, when 200 million people died from the black death". They said, "The second worst year was 1944 during the Holocaust". And that's when, of course, we know that over 50 million people died. They ranked 2020 as the sixth worst year in history.
Now, regardless, think about it. You look back at 2020, we'll always think about one word, COVID, worldwide pandemic drawing us to our knees. We had an election that frankly, many feared would disintegrate into a civil war and all of that alongside another explosion of racial tension and strife we haven't seen in decades. So no matter where this year ranks in history, you would be hard pressed to find anybody to say, they're not glad that 2020 is over. You won't find anybody who won't say that. I've never been more happy in my life that a year is gone. And it's hard to conceive of how things frankly could get worse than they've been for many people.
So, that's why we decided we would start a series that we're calling, "All Things New," because it's a brand new year, which is great. And every new year brings a new opportunity to live for Jesus, to love Jesus, to lead others to Jesus. And let me just be honest with you, here's one thing that we finally woke up and realized early on as a staff. We realized that this is not a time for our church to return to the way things used to be. I got news for you. Things will never be the way they used to be. I'm not a prophet or the son of a prophet, but I'm gonna make that prediction. Things will never be the way they used to be. I just, I was talking to a doctor last week. They're now telling us, even the vaccine that's out may not be the cure all to end all.
I went to see a doctor over the holidays. He walked in to see me and he said, "Hey, I got good news pastor". He said, "I just got my vaccine shot". I said, "Well then, why are you wearing a mask"? He said, "Because they say, I still have to wear a mask". What good is the vaccine if you're still gotta wear a mask? I mean, but that's just the life, that's where we live right now. And they find a vaccine, now there are other strains they say are coming out, that are even more contagious than the strain we're trying to cure. So, our church is not looking to return to the way things used to be. We believe this is a chance for us, not just to restart, but to reset. And that's why, frankly, we're kind of taking our time deciding what we need to do, because we seen firsthand how quickly life can come to an end, how a world can turn upside down in the snap of a finger.
How we thought that, what we thought, the things that we had, we thought, they're safe, they're secure, can be lost in a moment. But 2020 did force us to do something as we entered in 2021. So when life is at its absolute worst, how can you make life its best? It's a great question. When life is as absolute worse, how can we still live life to the best? Well, here's what our church believes. We believe the answer to that question comes straight from God in His Word and is captured in our mission statement. This is what it is. To point people to Jesus and inspire them to live the cross-shaped life. You can do that no matter what year you're in. You can do that whether there's a pandemic, an epidemic or no de-mic, it doesn't matter. You can always do that.
See, a lot of people out there right now, they're in search of what they called the good life, or what some would call your best life now. Well, for Christians, if you're a believer, the only life worth living is a life lived for Jesus, in Jesus, and like Jesus. I believe the best life you can live, is what we call the cross-shaped life. What we mean by the cross-shaped life, is a life that stretches in four directions. Worship, disciple, serve, and send. You can't live a better life. You can't have a more impactful life. You cannot have a more influential life. You cannot even experience more of an eternal life, than when you worship, disciple, serve, and you send.
So what we're going to do over the next four weeks, we're gonna revisit and specifically look at what that means for your life and for our church. And today, we're gonna begin with the very first one, which by the way, is not by coincidence, it is by design, is what we call worship. And we put that first. Why? Because God puts it first. You say, how do you know that? How many of you know what, you may not have them memorized. How many of you know what the 10 commandments are? You know, you're familiar with the 10 commandments, okay. If you're not, go back and read them and I want to call your attention to something. Do you realize that the first three commandments that God gave to the entire world, not just to the Jewish people, to the world, has it ever occurred to you, they all deal with worship? All, the very first three.
God says, "Let's get something out of the way right now. If you want to relate to Me the way you ought to relate to Me. Number one, you recognize Me and Me alone as God. Number two, you revere Me as the only God there is, don't have any idols before you. And then number three, if I'm the God that you say I am, you respect My name". It's amazing! First three things, He says, look, everything else flows from worship. That is the heart of worship, and when you worship, you worship right from the heart. When you truly do that, all the other commandments will follow. In fact, let me just tell you this. Every time you break one of the 10 commandments, you know what caused it? You quit worshiping. You can't worship God and steal from your neighbor. You can't worship God and covet your neighbor's wife. You can't worship from God and commit adultery. You can't worship God not keep the Sabbath day. You can't do that. It all flows from worship.
But that raises a big question. And the question is, what is worship? We talk about worship all the time, but I guarantee you this, I'll bet you if I pulled 10 people at random, right now in this room. And I said, "Okay, write down on a sheet of paper what worship is". I guarantee you, I'd get 10 different answers. We talk about worship all the time, but then we ask the question, what is worship? What's the definition? Well, let me tell you what's amazing. And I've never noticed this before, till I prepared this message. The Bible talks about worship from the beginning to the end. As a matter of fact, the Bible ends by this gigantic worship service we're gonna all be engaged in, in heaven. But do you know that only one time in the Bible is worship ever defined?
Now, it's described all throughout the Bible, particularly in the book of Psalms. It tells us this is what worship looks like, but did you know, there's only one time in the Bible where we're told exactly what worship is, how worship is defined. The only time in the entire Bible, where the statement is specifically made, "This is what worship is". I want to show it to you in a moment. This is what is gonna blow your mind. When you come to this one part of the Bible where it says, "This is what worship is". Guess what? Nothing is mentioned about singing. Nothing is mentioned about preaching. Nothing's mentioned about going to church. Nothing's mentioned about praying, because all of those are just expressions of worship. But there was a man named Paul who gave us the starting point and the specific definition of worship, and I want to share with you what it is.
If you bought a copy of God's Word, or you want to look in your iPhone or your pad or whatever. I want you to turn to a book called Romans, right. It's about six books in, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, about six books in the New Testament. I want you to look in Romans chapter 12, and I want to show you what a man named Paul said, this is what worship is. It's gonna blow your mind what he says. Listen to this. "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".
Now look what Paul says. "This is your true and proper worship". Nothing about singing, nothing about praying, nothing about going to church, nothing about taking notes into sermon, nothing about raising your hands and praising God. None of that. He said, "This is your true and proper worship". This is what worship is. And this is why we believe, the first and most important thing we could ever lead you to do is to worship. So, based on what Paul said, let me give you my definition of worship. This is the Merritt definition of worship, you're ready? Worship is giving all that I am, to all that God is. That's what worship is. Worship is giving all that I am, to all that God is.
Now, I'm gonna say something right now that may upset some of you. It may make you feel uncomfortable. It may cause you to get into some deep introspection, and that's okay. But when I studied this message and I prepared this, I mean, God convicted my own heart. I want you to listen to I'm about to tell you. There are people that come here every Sunday, and every church that people attend, or get on Zoom or whatever. However you attend, however you're worshiping right now, or think you're worshiping. You can come to church, you can lift your hands. You can sing to the top of your lungs. You can listen to every word that I'm preaching right now. You can take copious notes. You could even drop a dime or a dollar in the offering, but you have not worshiped, until you have given all that you are, to all that God is.
And there are many of you that walk out of this building every Sunday, and you say you've worshiped and you didn't come within a country mile of worshiping, because you've never given all that you are, to all that God is. I mean, let me just be blunt. How can you say you worship God and never give a dime to God's work? How can you even go to sleep at night and say, "Oh, I worshiped God". No you didn't. How can you say you've worshiped God, when you've got this little pet sin. Maybe it's pornography, maybe it's alcoholism. Maybe it's gossip, maybe it's lust. I don't know what it is. How can you say you've worshiped God when every day you say, "Now, I've got this little part of saying You can't have. I've got this part of my life You don't own".
You cannot and you do not worship God, until you've given to God all that you are. And here's the beautiful thing. When you really hit the bullseye of worship, you'll know it, because Paul says, "It will radically affect your life". So, how do you know you worship God? Three ways. Paul says it. He says, "Number one, we worship God when we take the road of total dedication". We worship God when we take the road of total dedication. Let's listen to this verse again. Paul says, "Therefore, I urge you". I'll come back to that in a moment. "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".
Now, for Paul, this was a matter of urgency. He says, "I urge you". That word urge was used for a general that would exhort his troops right before they were going to go into battle. And what he was saying is this, where we all must begin with God is worship, or we will never end with God. But then he offers a strange command. If you were Jewish back then you'd go, "Wait a minute, what are you talking about"? He says, "Here's how you worship. You offer your bodies as a living sacrifice". Now, you're Jewish. You're reading this for the first time, or you're hearing this for the first time 2000 years ago, you automatically know, okay, I know what you're doing, you're using the analogy of sacrificing an animal as they did in the Old Testament, right? So let me give you a pop quiz. When you sacrifice an animal, that animal winds up, what? Dead.
All right. We sacrifice turkeys every Thanksgiving, nobody eats a live turkey, right? It's dead. Wait a minute though, he talks about a living sacrifice. That's an oxymoron. Now, boys and girls, you may not know what an oxymoron is, okay. Let me give you some examples. This is an oxymoron. Of course I can keep secrets, it's the people I tell them to that can't keep 'em. Now, that's an oxymoron. Now, here's another one. Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined. That's an oxymoron. Here's another one. Give me a smart idiot over a stupid genius any day. That's an oxymoron. Here's another one. If you fall and break your legs, don't come running to me. That's what my mom used to say, right? Always be sincere even if you don't mean it. It's an oxymoron. The best cure for insomnia is get a lot of sleep. Oxymoron.
Here's the last one. I have never liked you, and I always will. That is an oxymoron. When you sacrifice something, you give up all possession, you give up all ownership. In the Old Testament, there was no such thing as a partial sacrifice. You didn't just sacrifice. When you sacrificed a lamb, you didn't just give a leg or an ear. It was a total sacrifice, no strings attached. And what Paul is saying is, this is what worship is. Here's what worship is, is when you've placed all of you, your desires, your wants, your privileges, your rights, your demands, your goals on the altar of God's will. And see, this is where the problem comes in. This is why many of us never get within a country mile of worship. We don't want to sacrifice ourselves. We don't want to give all that we are to all that God is.
Here's what we want to give God. You know we want to give God? We want to give God things, so here's what we do. We give God some of our money. We give God a certain amount of our time. And what Paul is saying is, you will never ever get to true worship until you understand. Listen, what I'm about to tell you. God is not after your money and God is not after your time. God wants you. Jesus didn't die for your money. He didn't die for your time. He died for you. And, 'cause God knows, what He wants and what He desires is your complete surrender. See, the heart of worship, is to worship right from the heart. That's why Paul says, "You gotta sacrifice your body. You gotta be a living sacrifice".
What does that mean? That means you make up your mind every day before you get out of bed. You know what Lord, with my eyes, I'm only gonna see what You want me to see. With my ears, I'm only gonna listen to what You want me to listen to. With my hands, I'm only gonna do what You want me to do. With my feet, I'm only gonna go where You want me to go. With my mouth and my lips, I'm only gonna say what You want me to say. And that's what so many people don't understand about the Christian life. Listen, let me tell you this. In order to get the most out of life, you've got to give up all of your life. In order to get the most out of your life, you've got to give up all of your life. That's what Jesus meant when He said. Remember what Jesus said? Jesus said, "If you want to gain your life, you must," what did He say? "You gotta lose it".
Sounds like an oxymoron, but it's not. It's not. Jesus said, "Hey, you really want to live life the way you ought to live it"? Yes, Lord, I do. You gotta lose it. You gotta give it to Me. That's what worship's all about. Worship starts in the heart, and if your heart's not ready to worship, then you're not ready to worship. And so, you gotta give God your body and all that you are as a living sacrifice to Him. And here's what Paul says. Paul said, "Now, when you do that, that's your true. That is your proper worship". By the way that word true, is the word that gives us the word logical. That's your logical worship. Here's what Paul really meant.
So I want you to think about this. If you really believe God is who God says He is. And if you really believe that God has done for you, what you believe He has done for you, then the only logical response for you is to give all that you are, to all that He is. The only logical response is to worship Him by your complete surrender. But then He says this. He says, "It's your reasonable worship or your reasonable service". Because some of you may have your translation. This is your reasonable service. That word can also be translated service, and I believe that Paul meant to do that. I believe it means both worship and service. Because you know, that's why one of our core strategies is to serve, but here's the mistake we make.
Too many people make the mistake of differentiating between worship and service. They think they're totally separate acts. We think worship is what we do on Sunday morning, and service is what we do during the week. That's totally wrong. The truth of the matter is, we are to serve the Lord as we worship Him, and we worship the Lord as we serve others. This is why I want you to hear this. This is so important. Your worship, and this is where a lot of people think. That a lot of people, Christians think this way, that's why they live the way they live. So many believers think your worship begins on Sunday and it ends on Sunday. It begins on Sunday and it ends on Sunday. I got news for you, worship never stops.
I told our staff this morning, we were having our prayer time before when got here this morning. And I'm gonna tell you what I told our staff. If you don't hear anything else, I say, I want to hear this and this man. This is the one statement. Take this one home. You do not come to church to worship. Now, if you heard that, hold your hand up, real well, I wanna make sure you heard me, okay everybody got it. I know you're kind of shocked. You do not come to church to worship, you bring your worship to church with you. If you didn't come in here already worshiping God, you didn't worship God just now, because worshiping God is a 24/7 deal. A.W. Tozer said this, "If you will not worship God seven days a week, you don't worship Him on one day a week". So to worship God, you take the road of total dedication.
Now, here's what happens Paul says. Paul says, "When that happens," when you take the road of total dedication, he says, "then you will see the result of a spiritual transformation". When you take the road of total dedication, you'll know it, 'cause you see the result of a spiritual transformation. In other words, what you're about to find out is this. If you walk out that door in a minute, the same way you walked in, you didn't worship. I don't know what you did, you didn't worship. Dr. Rogers used to say, "When you come worship, leave mad, sad, or glad, but to leave the same way you walked in". You can't, it's impossible, because when you truly worship, here's what will happen. When you walk out those doors today, when you walk out of your home today, you'll see the world through the eyes of God. You'll hear the world with the ears of God. You'll think about this world with the mind of God.
So Paul says this, "Do not conform". Now, this is what happens when you worship. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind". Now, two concepts jump immediately, right? One is confirmation and the other is transformation. Let me tell you what's happening to all of you right now. Listen to me, right. It's happening right this minute. Right now, you're either being conformed to transformed. Can I give you a real practical example? If you're sitting there thinking right now, when is this gonna be over, I want to go eat. You're being conformed. But if you're thinking right now is, boy, God, I've not worshiped You like I ought to. You convicted me today. There's an area of my life I need to surrender to You. Now you're being transformed.
See, you can live your life one of two ways, you're gonna relate to the Lord one of two ways. You're either gonna be conformed, or you're gonna be transformed. Now, to be conformed is real simple. It means to be molded into someone else's shape. A man named J.B. Phillips translated the Bible, and his translation said this. "Don't let the world squeeze you into its mold". Let me tell you what that means, and if the shoe fits wear it. I have pastored thousands of people. And I'm just being honest, I'm not trying to be ugly when I say this or unkind, I'm just telling you the truth. A lot of people I've pastored are what I call chameleon Christians. How many of you know what a chameleon is? Okay, if you don't, let me tell you. A chameleon is someone, it's an animal. It changes color with its surroundings.
So, if its surrounding is blue, it'll be blue. If the surrounding is green, it will be green. It takes on the color of whatever dominant color's around. In other words, it conforms. And I'm just gonna be very honest. This is where most Christians live their life. Here's how they live. They go to church and they look like, and they act like, and they talk like, and they sound like church goers oughta look like, and act like, and talk like, and sound like. But the moment they walk out the door of the church, what do they do? They look like the world, and they act like the world, and they talk like the world and they sound like the world, and they do like the world. And the truth of the matter is, let's just be honest, most people have a herd mentality. They don't want to be different. They don't want to stand out. They don't want to be criticized. They want to be ostracized. They want to be with the in crowd and they cannot stand the thought of being ridiculed or rejected, because maybe what they believe goes against the grain.
So, they conform, which is just another word of caving in. And Paul says, "We're not to be conformed. We are to be transformed". To put it actively, we're not to be conformers, we are to be transformers. And by the way, the Greek word there for transform gives us the English word, metamorphosis. You kids, if you go to school long enough, you'll study it in a biology class. What metamorphosis is, is a change on the outside that comes from the inside. For example, a butterfly, you know this, some of you know this now. A butterfly is the result of a metamorphosis. It's hard to believe, but that slimy, grimy caterpillar that's crawling around on the ground, it forms a cocoon around it's body, and before long that cocoon will sprout wings and legs and a body and out comes this beautiful butterfly.
What happened? It was changed on the outside, because of a change on the inside. I tell Theresa this all the time. I'm more in love with my wife today, than I've ever been in my life. And I told her, I said, "You know, when I got married to you, you transformed me". So what do you mean? I said, "Boy, the minute you said I do, and then we kissed and I was your husband. I became prince charming. There was this transformation in my life". And see, the way that change takes place is by the renewing of the mind. You can't worship God and think the way the world thinks and see these things the way the world sees things, because here's what God does. It's something we don't get. You need to teach your kids this. When you worship God, He doesn't change your heart, He changes your mind. He changes the way you think.
Psychologists tell us that 98 to 99% of our thoughts are habitual. In other words, the thoughts you thought yesterday or about the thoughts you think today. And the thoughts you think today are about like the thoughts you're going to think tomorrow. Paul says, "Your mind can either become a prison and keep you captive to the way the world thinks, or it can be a bridge to literally having the mind of Christ and thinking the way God thinks". But here's what Paul said. He says, "Your mind has to be renewed day by day". I'm gonna give you a thought. Your mind needs a tuneup every morning. Seriously, your mind needs a tune up every morning. You say, well, how do you do that? Where do you go to get a tune up? You ready? Right there. That's where you get your tune up. You go to God's Word, you take time. You put everything else down. You read God's Word. Why? Why you do that? You're getting into the mind of God. You're learning the ways of God.
And guess what happens, when you get into the mind of God and you get into the ways of God, you start looking at the world through the eyes of scripture and you start responding to the world the way scripture commands. So let me put it to you this way. If you are always thinking of things, the way the world normally thinks about things, you need a mind renewal. So, let me give you now the difference between confirmation and transformation. Now, before I put this up on the screen, when I put this up on the screen, I want you to be honest with yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror of your heart, and ask yourself this question. Am I conformer or am I a transformer? You ready? Here's the difference. If the world looks at you and sees a mirror, that is its own reflection, that's confirmation. But when the world looks at you and sees a window, and in that window is Jesus, that's transformation. That's the difference.
Do people look at you and see a mirror? "Oh, you're just like me". Or they look at you and see a window say, "Oh man, that is Jesus". And see the mind is the key. The gateway to your heart is through your mind. And when you saturate your heart with the Word of God, and you fill your mind with a wisdom of God, when you fill your mind with the wisdom of God, then you'll worship God. Well, guess what happens? When you finally get to that point where you're thinking God's thoughts, you're seeing the way God sees things. You're looking at things the way God looks at things. You're processing the things the way God processes things. He said, here's the last, and this is the best part of all. He says, "You'll get the reward of personal revelation". You'll get the reward of personal revelation.
Here's what Paul is saying, it's so wonder, this is so practical. Paul says, "James, if today you take the road of total dedication, you will experience that spiritual transformation and you'll get the greatest reward in this life". Here's what he says. "Then you'll be able to test and approve what God's will is, His good, pleasing, and perfect will". You cannot separate the worship of God from the will of God. And it is the will of God that we truly worship Him. And we truly worship Him, and when we do, He will reveal His will to us. Here's a principle to remember. When you do what God wants you to do, He will reveal to you what to do, when you don't know what to do. May sound a little bit vague, but it's really true. When you do what God wants you to do, He will reveal to you what to do when you don't know what to do.
You know, people come to me sometimes say, "Man, I just don't know what to do". Here's always gonna be easy. I say, look, you don't know what to do, right? You know what to do tomorrow? No. Do you know what to do right now? Yes. Well then, do that. But you do what you know to do, you know it's what God wants you to do, then in due time, He'll tell you what you want, need to do when you don't know what to do. By the way, worship starts in the heart, and to stay in the heart, you gotta share worship with each other. So, while I'm in the neighborhood, let me just say this. If you really worship God every single day, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, let's say you really do. You know what happens on Sunday? You don't have to come to church, you want to come to church. Nobody has to make you, beg you, plead with you. It doesn't matter if it's cold or hot, rainy or dry. It doesn't matter.
When you really worship God, six days a week, you want to share that worship with other people, 'cause the Bible makes it plain. We're to worship God together. By the way, let me just say this. I've said this so many times, I'm gonna say it again. These people, you know, they give me an itch I can't locate when I hear this. Well, I don't believe you have to be a Christian to go to church. Two things I want to say about that statement. Number one, it is a true statement. Number two, it is a very revealing statement, because if you don't have any desire to come one day a week, one day, and that's part of a day. If you don't have any desire to come to God's house and get with God's people and worship God together, what own earth are you gonna do when you get to heaven? 'Cause by the way, you don't get to check out in heaven.
You don't say, no thanks, I don't feel like coming today. Do you know what we're gonna be doing for all eternity? Worshiping God together. You know what we're doing right now, this is a dress rehearsal for eternity. You'd better get used to it. You better fall in love with it. You better learn what it means to do it, 'cause that's what we're going to do for all eternity. That's why being committed to the church, being involved in church, worshiping together in church is such a big, big deal. There was a little boy that went to church with his dad one Sunday morning. And boy, before he got down, got into bed that night, he knelt down beside his bed and he prayed this prayer. He said, here's what he said. "Dear God, we had a great time at church today, I wish You'd been there".
I wonder how many times God wants to write so many of His children a letter after Sunday is over and say, this, "Dear blank, church was awesome today. I showed up in a powerful way. I wish you'd been there". See, to God, there's nothing more important in your life than being in the will of God, because that's the only way life to be lived. And you ought to be obsessed in knowing and doing God's will. Let me tell you why Paul says this. Never be afraid of the will of God for three reasons. Number one, he said, "God's will is good". It's good.
Now, if that's true, you should never be afraid of the will of God. Listen, know this about the will of God. It's not always good. God's will is not always good. I've learned this, God's will is always better for you than anything that you could have come up with on your own. Anything that's in the will of God is always better for you than anything that lies outside of the will of God. Let me tell you, I mean this with all of my heart, if it is the will of God that I die today, I'd be better dead today than alive tomorrow. I'd be better. I'd rather be dead in the will of God, than alive outside the will of God. It is good. But then he said, "It's also pleasing". What does that mean? He said, "Look, when you do My will, it'll be pleasing to you, and it'll be pleasing to Me". Because the greatest, sweetest, happiest place you'll ever be in your life, is when you're in the center of God's will for your life.
So it's good, it's pleasing, but then, this is the best part. He said, "It's perfect". Now, the last time I checked, you can't beat perfection. And you need to remember that God loves you so much, He doesn't want what's good for you, He doesn't even want what's better for you, He wants what is best for you and what is perfect. Well, what's perfect? His will for your life. I'm a big history buff, and one of the parts of our history that's always fascinated me is World War II. And I've been on Netflix because of the COVID and all that, and I've watched a lot of documentaries on World War II. So, on March the fifth, 1945, the kamikaze special attack unit was formed just days before much of downtown Tokyo was incinerated by American bombers.
Now you've heard of kamikaze pilots, you know what that is? The word kamikaze Japanese means divine wind, divine wind. What Japan was hoping for, was that their kamikaze pilots would be a divine wind that would keep the United States away from their shores. Now, they had a special name for those pilots. We call them kamikaze pilots. They called themselves the tokkotai. And that referred to the special suicide mission pilots. These were Naval cadets, many of them were teenagers, never hardly even flown a plane. And they would assemble these young men together, and they'd hear this speech from a senior officer telling them, it is your honor, not just your duty. It is your honor to die for the emperor. That is your honor. And then they were handed a form, and they asked them to select from one of three options.
Number one, I do not want to join the tokkotai. That was option one. Option two, I would like to join the tokkotai. Number three, it is my fervent desire to join the tokkotai. You know what's amazing? Without exception, when they ask all of those young, many of them teenagers. When they ask all of those young pilots, which option do you choose? Every single one chose number three, it is my fervent desire to join the tokkotai. And as one of them put it, he said this. "When we became soldiers, we offered our lives to the emperor, therefore, special attacks is just another way of performing our military obligation".
Boy, I tell you, I thought about that. Here with these young teenage boys, and they were ready, willing, able, even enthusiastic to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice. Flying planes into ships because they worshiped a false God. And I say to us today, how much more should we, to the only God, the true God, the holy God, the gracious God who gave His life for us. How much more every day should we give Him our bodies as a living sacrifice in worship? Would you pray with me right now?
With heads bowed and with eyes closed, I want to say a word to you this morning, and I hope you'll hear this. You can't worship God until you know God, and you cannot know God until you give God all that you are to all that He is. If you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior. If you've never surrendered everything you are to Him. I mean everything, I'm gonna ask you to do that right now. You know why, for some of you, God's not real to you? He really isn't, you know why? It's not because of Him, it's because of you.
You may be one of those people that, you know, you walked down the aisle of a church when you were nine years old or you filled out a card, or you got baptized, but there was no transformation in your life, 'cause you've never, ever really given to God all that you are. That's what God demands. Jesus Christ died on the cross and came back from the grave, not for you to give part of what you are, but all of what you are to Him. He gave all that He was to you. You need to give all that you are to Him. And if you've never really done that, today, I'm gonna invite you to do it right now. Boys, girls, grown men, grown women, you're in this building, you're watching by Zoom, you're watching by TV. Right now, would you make it? Would you right now, offer yourself as a living sacrifice. Just say this to the Lord. Say:
Lord Jesus, today, believing You died for my sins. Believing God raised You from the dead, believing You're alive right now. I ask You to come into my heart. I ask You to save me. I ask You to forgive me of all of my sins. I repent and turn away from my sins.