Levi Lusko - It's Time to Dance
In Psalm 149, we find one of seven different words that are translated as our English word praise. There are seven different Hebrew words that are used throughout the Bible to describe this thing that we call praise, this thing that we think of when we think about worship, praising God, giving him worship. Of course, in English we're at a disadvantage because we just have the one word, praise. And it's been said that if all you ever have is a hammer, as you look around your life, all you're going to see is nails, right? Because if you only have a hammer, you're going to look for a reason to smack that hammer on something. And so life's just going to tend to look like it's full of nails. And that is why it is powerful to get a more sophisticated toolbox. This is true on a number of levels. This is for sure true emotionally, baby, right? If your only response is level 10 on everything, then in life, people are going to start to feel like nails.
So it's incredible to develop something called range. And this is where other languages have maybe a leg up on English at times. You probably have heard of the four different Greek words for love. In English, we just got the one, right? So we're left going, I love ice cream. I love the Denver Broncos. I love my wife. I love Jesus. Now, hopefully you don't love all of those things in your life at the same exact level. Hopefully, you do love ice cream, but hopefully it's not the same love you would have for your spouse. And hopefully, the love that you have or the allegiance that you have for the Seahawks, or the Broncos, or the Chiefs, feel free to get excited at any point as I mention something that provokes the response in you. Hopefully that's not the same level of fidelity or loyalty that you have for your Savior. And so in the Greek, we got these four different words for love, storge and phileo, and agape, and eros. And so you get to tailor make your approach on what you're trying to actually communicate based on which word you would use.
Now, I knew that. I knew that for a long time about love, but I don't know how I missed it as far as the praise train. But back in 2017, five or so years ago, a friend of mine reached out and asked me for an endorsement for a book that he and his pastor were working on. And when Chris Tomlin asks you for something, you just go yes, right? And so I said, of course, I'll look at the book and see if it's something I could endorse. And so he sends me the manuscript, and I start reading it. And this book, the premise is that we can unlock new levels of worship if we understand the range of the different words used in the Book of Psalms for praising God, for worshipping God. And I was like, how have I gone so far in life not knowing this? This is unbelievable.
And I brought the book with me on a little family vacation we were taking, and I read it. This was in '17. So I mean, every day I'm reading this book and just feeling such strength, feeling such power feeling like, wow, I have the right tool for the job. There's not just one kind of praise that we have to just smack every situation over the head with. There's a range when it comes, there's a more sophisticated way to approach praising and worshipping God. And I tucked it away, and I knew at some point I would want to communicate on it. And just early on in this year, God really told me, this is the time for us. I feel like God is in this season seeking to unlock new levels of worship in our hearts, in our church, to break through ceilings when it comes to breakthrough in our worship life, in all of our lives as a community.
And so what we're going to be doing in these seven weeks, and I do hope you'll come back every week. And I won't always be doing gotcha as much as I have today, but what we're going to be doing is we're going to be taking some time week by week to look at these different words to seek to understand them, to get our heads around them, and hopefully add them to our arsenal in life so that we can use them as needed. In the 1600s, some people got together, some very smart people got together theologically to seek to condense and distill big theological ideas in little packages. They didn't know it. They were basically trying to tweet. They were trying to tweet before it was time to tweet, right?
And they arrived at what is known as the Westminster Shorter Catechism. And in this, they asked a question. The question was, what is the chief end of man? Really big question to figure out, to grapple with. What's the chief end of man? Meaning, what's the point of this whole thing, bro? Like, what's the point of this all? What does it all mean? What is the goal, like, this whole life thing? What should be the objective? What is the goal? What is the point? And what they arrived at, and to put it so succinctly that it has not been topped yet in the last 300 plus years, was this statement. Man's chief end... if you don't know this by heart you should be grabbing your pen right now, man's chief and is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The point of your life, the point of your existence, every day what should be the thing that's behind the thing when you do all the things that you do in your life, the background should be, I'm seeking to do this in such a way as to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
When you die, they're going to put two numbers on your tombstone, and in between is going to be a dash. One tiny little dash is all you get to encapsulate everything you do in the time that you're breathing air and expelling carbon dioxide on this planet. And hopefully, in that time with your death, with your tiny little dash, you can say when it's all over, I glorified God and I enjoyed Him forever. What they were saying, to put it even more succinctly, is that the point of life is to worship. The point of life is to worship. And if that's the case, don't you think it would be worth our time to try and get better at it? And that's what we're going to try and do in these weeks of this series. We're going to try and get better at the thing that's the meaning of life. That's a worthy use of our time.
Now of course, when we talk about praise and we talk about worship, we generally think of singing, and we should. Of course, and we'll unpack in the weeks of this series, that worship is much more than singing. Much more than singing. Worship is all of life. Worship is how you work. Worship how you make love. Worship hopefully is behind everything you do in life. But listen. Listen to me very carefully. While worship is more than singing, it certainly is not less. And biblically, worship and singing, worship and music, they do go together. They do go hand-in-hand. They are warp and woof, cut from the same cloth. And so while there are going to be applications to all of life, we are going to seek to understand, what does it mean to sing? What does it mean? Is it just the previews before the movie? Is just a buffer that gives you enough time to get coffee and slide into your seat before the talk begins? What is the whole thing we're singing?
We're going to seek to understand that as we talk about praise, what it is, what it isn't, how to do it, how to grow in it, how to go from just having a Putt Putt club to having a whole bag of golf clubs and the specific wedge and driver, and there are 5 iron that you need for each, what does this call for? We're going to seek to understand and hopefully get a few things added to our bag in these days. And I'm just going to tell you, I am so excited for you. I'm excited for what this is going to mean. I'm excited for what this is going to represent, what this is going to unlock, what this is going to lead to. And I want to give honor to my friend Chris Tomlin and his pastor, pastor Darren Whitehead for the inspiration behind this series. OK. Psalm 149, as we begin, let's read together.
If you wouldn't mind, stand with me in honor and attention as we read God's word publicly. Excuse me. I think it's just the residual absolute contact high from five days in New York City. Wow, geez. Cloud covers that city at the moment. Excuse me. Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the assembly of saints. Let Israel rejoice in their maker. Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise Him, praise His name with the dance. Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp, for the Lord takes pleasure in his people. He will beautify the humble with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory. Let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth and a two edged sword in their hand to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples; to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute on them the written judgment, this honor have all the saints. And he begins how he began, praise the Lord.
And so, Father, at the beginning of this thrilling, exciting adventure, this new season in the history of your church, Fresh Life Church, we are eager and full of expectation over what is about to happen. I sense in my spirit something new, that you're doing a new thing, that you are about to break out streams in the desert, that the deserted place is going to bloom like the rose. And so I pray believing that over every single person listening, every single person joining us in Utah, and Wyoming, and Idaho, and Oregon, and Montana, our church online family literally all over the country and world, and we pray you would speak to us clearly, you give us ears to hear. We know that you are seeking those who will worship you in spirit and in truth, and we pray you would find just what you are looking for here in this place. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
You may be seated in God's presence. I want to preach to you on the first word for worship that we're going to cover we're going to seek to understand, and that is the word halal. Halal, could you say it with me? Halal. On the screen is the definition for the word halal. It's to shine. It's to make a show. It's to boast. It's to be clamorously foolish, to rave, to celebrate, to glory, to give light is the idea, praise, or rage. Y'all, there's a bunch going on up in this word. We started with a bang, halal. And that is something that you have just glanced over. All of that is contained in something you've glanced over a million times. Because ever since you've been reading the Bible, you've been reading and hearing this phrase, praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. It's 10 different times the way Psalms begin. It almost seems like just this shot off the bow, this raising of the roof, this brand new level that's being opened up. Like I got an agenda in this Psalm, but first, halal, y'all. Praise the Lord.
That's what we find 24 different times in the Book of Psalms. Halal, y'all. Praise the Lord. It's the basis for our word that we say hallelujah, which literally is halal jah, or halal, the Lord Jehovah, Yahweh. The Lord who said I am that I am; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God of Creation; the God of the Bible; the God who revealed himself to us in the form of Jesus who said before Abraham was, I Am. Before Abraham was, Yahweh. So when we say halal jah, we're saying praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. That was transliterated over. Instead of translating it, many times in the Latin Septuagint, which is the Old Testament in Latin, they chose to just render it, hallelujah. Or as we know it, allelujah, which is a way to bring a word over across a language barrier without translating it. Instead, you're just letting the original language have its power because there's just something different about saying allelujah, praise be the Lord. Praise Ye the Lord. It's good advice. It's a good idea. It's something you should say to each other. It's something you should say to yourself. Praise the Lord, hallelujah. Hallelujah.
So what does it mean, halal? What does it mean? Well, it's basically, and the title of my message, a way to say this, it's time to dance. It's time to dance. Did you know there's a time to dance? In fact, the Bible says that there is. That also means that there's a time not to dance, and that's what we find in the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verse 4. There's a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to dance. Have you ever considered what that verse is saying? That verse is saying that if at times you don't dance, you're missing out on the appropriate time. If at times you withhold dancing, you are not doing what is called for in that moment. Now, I know this is a hot take, and this is a polarizing subject, different Christian traditions, right? Some of you are from the Church of the chosen frozen, and this is very uncomfortable for you to think about, to talk about. You're just like, this you just say to me, Levi, don't even know if, it might even be sinful. It might be like playing cards, like cussing, working on Sunday.
This is just, my mind is being blown here. So you say to me, Levi, can, and I kind of want to do today is literally give you a biblical case for dancing. I want to make a biblical case for dancing. Because if you would say to me, and if we ever sat down and you said one of the things that people always say, like can a Christian get tattoos? Can a Christian smoke? Can a Christian... these are the questions people love to ask, right? The smoking one's my favorite because I've got a really good answer. If I smoke, will I not go to heaven, you would say? I would say, no, it'll get you there faster.
OK, listen, these are my pat answers, all right? These are the jokes, people. And I love the answer I've come up with for can a Christian dance? And I would just say to you, some can, some can't. We'll put some music on. We're going to figure out real quick whether you can or whether you can't. But whether you can or you can't, what I want to say to you is, you should. You should. There should be some halal in y'all. There should be, as I've kind of described it, as I've been seeking to understand the range of this word and the use of this word, there should be joy in your life that leaks out from head to toe. Joy from head to toe. Halal, y'all, to rave, to rage, to shine, to celebrate, to do so in such a way that makes a show, that shines, that gives glory, and that is, I love that part, clamorously foolish.
So what I want to do today is teach you how to make a fool of yourself, and to do so in Jesus' name. Now of course, there's not always the appropriate time for such a thing. And as we intentionally put together worship experiences and the songs we sing in our gatherings, we do intend for there to be some songs where there would be contemplation and reflection, times where it just wouldn't really make sense for there to be dancing, or even in every moment for that to be right. But what I am saying is the movement of the body, and not just the lyrics coming from your lips, are a part of the action of worship, the action of praise. And that's what halal would have us to know. And why would we be so uncomfortable with the thought of dance, and worship, and these things coinciding, of there being this movement, this joy that's just so powerful it's like a volcano? You just can't keep it in with just singing. There needs to be some way your body would reflect that worship.
We dance on TikTok. No one's afraid of being a fool on TikTok, all right? We dance at concerts. We dance at sporting events. There's a natural reaction to a victory to something, celebration, where you just need to almost dance. There's something in us and how we were made that we need to respond to the joy and euphoria we're feeling in a moment. If you get a big raise, if you close a big deal, it's natural for, you don't just go, I did something awesome. I mean, there is something in you that just needs to act it out, that just needs to demonstrate, that just need some end zone action. There's something in us that just, it just wells up. And so what I want to challenge you when we talk about the concept of halal is, how can you be willing to be so foolish in so much of life, but then sit so chill with arms crossed and barely give God a toe tap when we are singing about the loftiest themes that can be articulated on heaven?
Don't tell me the Seattle Seahawks get more of your affection than your Savior, than your creator. Don't you tell me that you would absolutely go berserk at an Eagles concert, or a Bieber concert, or if the queen bee herself was on that platform, Beyonce. You would act a fool. You would bust a leg. If you got a big old elk in the woods, some of you would be moonwalking through that forest. So why would we then all of a sudden need to just be so restrained when we're talking about salvation? And so that's my first point I want you to jot down. I want you to understand that halal is what salvation sounds like, what salvation sounds like. What we're talking about with halal, though not so narrowly focused, is really just music and dancing. Music and dancing, they go in together.
The movement of your body that is, in a foolish way, in a conspicuous way, in a way that's like, we are just going there. This is happening right here. This is happening right now. Like Ice Ice, Baby is going to take over. This is a thing. This is a thing right now. It's what salvation sounds like, the sound of music and the sound of dancing. That's halal. Praise the Lord, hallelujah. We are not going to keep still. We are not going to stay contained. It's time to praise the Lord. That's what salvation sounds like. Let me give you a couple of examples of it. You know the story. It's Luke 15, a father had two sons. One of them went to a faraway country wanting his dad to be dead before he was in the grave. And his dad, unbelievably, cashed in and liquefied everything and gave him what he would get in the disbursement of the estate: prostitutes, raging parties, sycophant friends, bandwagon we're there with you because it's up, but we're not going to be there when the bottom drops. And the son ended up destitute.
I mean, think a heroin addict in the gutter. No one gave him anything. Where were all those people who were there to cheers him when he was buying drinks for the whole room? There was no one, this is most haunting phrase to me in that text, no one gave him anything. He hired himself to a man who dealt in unkosher, unclean beasts, fed the pigs. The garbage that he was feeding to them eventually became desirable to him. And in that moment, it was the greatest grace that ever came upon him, the hardship he endured in that moment, because it brought him to his senses. He came to himself. And in that moment, he said, I should go back to my father. Worthy? Certainly not, but his servants are treated better than this. Better to be a servant in the house of my father than to stay here one moment longer. So he walks. And his father, who clearly had been waiting a long time for his son to return because he was still watching. He still had his eyes on the horizon. Seeing him a long way off, he ran. Halal. Couldn't keep himself contained.
In that culture, wealthy patriarchs never ran. Undignified servants do that. It's different what they valued. We love being tan. If you were tan then, it meant you were blue collar. Rich people were pasty. If you were skinny, it meant you were in the fields all day working. Rich people had the luxury of being fat. If you were on the treadmill, you're like, I mean, all the things that are so hot now are like, we're like, there's proletariat, you know what I'm saying? Those bottom feeders, right? And unbelievable. So the father, wealthy; the father, pasty; the father, larger, because he could afford the finest meat, ran, picked up his skirts and ran. Why? It's believed and postulated famously by Dr. Tim Keller that in that day, the shame that the son brought on the home would have made it open season and completely likely that anybody in the town and community could stone that boy to death on sight, for he had brought such disgrace to his dad.
The father halaled. The father ran. The father couldn't contain the emotion because he wanted to be a shield for his son so that if anybody threw anything to the boy, it would have to go through me first. So this emotion, this feeling, this passion, this joy from head to toe at seeing his boy caused him to need to act with his body. This idea of I don't care, I'm willing to be a fool. I'm willing to be a disgrace. I'm willing to clamorously do something that brings conspicuous attention upon. I'm not acting cool. Oh yes, so we'll see him when he comes. We'll speak to him later. He ran. He was a fool. He disgraced himself out of love. That's halal. And the son's brought in. Of course, there's weeping, and there's hugging, there's kissing. He puts the finest robe on his shoulders, ring on his finger. He slays the fatted calf.
And then we're told the older brother as he approached the house knew something was going on inside because he heard, I think we have it on the screen, this is from Luke 15, the sound of music and dancing. And I love that the two are included here. He knew there had been salvation. He knew his brother was alive. Why? Because of the sound of music, the sound of dancing. That's what salvation sounds like. When you understand there's salvation that's taking place, the right response is what? Music and dancing. Why? Because salvation came to this house. Has God rescued you from anything? Another example, a picture of halal. Now, those aren't instances where the exact Hebrew word was used. I'm just giving you a visual picture of when you're willing to be foolish because of something you're feeling from head to toe.
Acts chapter 3 is the text. You probably know Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, and they saw a lame man who had been lame from birth sitting there where he lay daily at the gate called Beautiful. What a shocking juxtaposition thematically, a beautiful place, a miserable person. And as Peter and John walked by, they caught his gaze. And the man looking at them saw that they were looking at him and turning their attention towards him, turning their charisma, turning their power towards him, their agency towards him, assumed from their body posture they were about to give him something. I just love so much the pregnancy of that, what we can communicate without words. What we can communicate with our body is powerful. That's the point. As they turned towards him, he expected to receive something.
As you live life, people are expecting to receive things from you not just by what you say, but how you say it. And that's really what I think halal communicates, that it's not just the words that are coming out of your mouth. It's the nonverbals. It's that body language. It's what you're using your body to communicate. And they used that agency, they used that authority, they used that power to communicate something that caused someone to think there's something good coming my way. What a word to us parents. What a word to us spouses. What a word to us as we walk and live among the unnamed people that we don't know that we bump into that we can communicate warmth, and kindness, and grace, and that people didn't even know what we're saying, but they can just tell there's something about how we carry ourselves. There's something about, man, that's a strong person, and wow, they're a warm person. It's a strong person, but a person who notices people..
What's that old quote about you can tell the real depth of a man's integrity by how he treats someone who can do nothing for them? This man laying at the gate Beautiful could do nothing to help Peter and John's status ranking. Their lives could be better in no way by being associated with this man, and yet they turned their bearing, their gaze, their focus toward him in such a loving way that he thought, I'm surely about to receive something from them. Peter said these words. Silver and gold I do not have. But what I do have I give you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Rise, get up, and walk, extending his hand towards the man. And now I think we have the verse, the man took the hand and leaping up, Acts 3 says, walking, and leaping, and praising God. This man was Billie Jean is not my... all around that temple courtyard, he had never walked before! He had never walked before!
So jumping and using the legs he was just given. If you've been given new legs, I say you jump on them. That's halal, y'all! Halal! I couldn't walk, but I can now! He picked me up from the gutter. He gave me a new life. He gave me a new heart. He took out my heart of stone and put a heart of flesh in me. I have a hope. I have a future. I got to walk. I got to leap. I got to praise the Lord. Hallelujah. It's what salvation sounds like. Or as someone recently said, love will make you do crazy things. Thank you, senior Smith for a great quote and a bad example of passion. All right. Where does halal come from? Halal, that's the second question I want to ask. Where does it come from? We've seen what salvation sounds like. Secondly, put some notes under this heading, where it comes from. It comes from an understanding, and all praise is going to be some version of this throughout the weeks, from who God is, what He has done, and what that means for us as a result.
Who God is, what He's done, and a response to that. Thus I need you to understand for all seven words, all of our praise is a response to Him. None of it starts with us. We love Him because He first loved us. We exist to give Him glory because He created us to do such a thing and was kind enough to do so. And when we understand how we fit into the story, when we understand the components of it, the response to it, the right response to that is to take part in the dance because we see that as what has just happened. It was the theologian CS Lewis who used the language of a dance to describe how the Trinity works: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There's a dance of the Trinity. And when we know that God is perpetually within the members of Himself in a dance, and we get created by Him in His image to shine that light back on Him. And then when we sinned and lost our way, He shed His blood to redeem us to Himself and to bring us back into that story, that we were so important to Him that He didn't just write us off. He didn't just cancel us.
Oh, well, you blew it. Sorry, I'll just write someone else into the story. No, He said, no, no, no, no, no, no. We're going to find a way to redeem them. And what it took was writing Himself into the story in the role of the person who would pay for our bill. And such love and such grace, when we think about it, when you let it set in, like Ephesians chapter 2 says, but now in Christ Jesus, excuse me, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. You go, I'm in the dance. I'm in the dance. I'm in the dance because of the blood of Jesus. I'm back in the dance. I was without hope. Now I have hope. I did not have people. Now I have people. I did not have a chance. Now I have a chance. I didn't have lungs to give him praise, but now I do. The right response is to dance.
1 Corinthians 6:9, do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? That's a problem because you are unrighteous in yourself, all of our righteous deeds like filthy rags. And such were, verse 11, some of you, after listing some of the different options of ways to become unrighteous. But you were washed. You were sanctified. You were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the spirit of God. How can you not dance? How can you not leave? How can you not work? How can you not want to express that with your body? You are not going to the kingdom of God. That's not good. That's very, very bad. That's living without hope. That's dying without promise. That's heading to hell forever. That's not your story. You're alive. You've been saved. You've been glorified. You've been justified. You've been redeemed. You were seen. Holy crap! That's great news!
Baby, if that don't light your fire, your wood's wet! There's not a better thing. There's not a better thing. There's not a better thing going. There's nothing that offers the hope that's in Christ. Praise the Lord, there's hope in Christ. Life has meaning. I've got a future. Everything is not meaningless in vanity. It's not a tale told full of noise and fury. We have a purpose. There's a point. There's meaning. There's a hereafter. And when I remember that the planets are perpetually dancing, and when I think about the moon, and its movements, and its waxing and waning, I realize there's a pull on the tide. There's a dance. There's a choreography. It's cinematic. Look under a microscope. Look into a telescope. Everything is dancing and orbiting, summer then winter. There's a dance to the year. There's a dance to life. You have children, they grow. You launch them out. You get to sleep naked. All the things, right?
There's a dance to it. There's a rhythm to it. There's a cadence to it. And through the Spirit in freedom, what are we doing? We're participating in the dance. So it makes sense to me that the psalmist never says, stand there blankly with your arms crossed and sing something about God if you can get to church on time for the music. That just doesn't compute to me. That doesn't make any sense in the Jewish culture in which the Psalms were written. The other two times in the Old Testament the root word for halal is used is describing the festivities that accompanied the stomping of grapes after harvest. I've never been to such a thing. It seems like a good time. You got people in there dancing. There's grapes. There's a good, we're celebrating a harvest, y'all! Halal, y'all! Halal, y'all! Praise the Lord.
I'm trying to make a case for dancing. What I'm trying to say is if God's been good to you, it's time to dance. I'm trying to tell you that there should be the sound of music, the sound of dancing coming from your life, coming from our church. Where does it come from? Opening your eyes. Realizing he's dancing. How dumb would it be to not dance back? Zephaniah 3:17 says He rejoices over you with dancing. He rejoices over you with singing. What a wonderful thought. It's talking about His movements over you. And I don't know if you are that guy or that girl who your spouse wants to dance and you just kind of stand there with him, and you'll sit and watch, and they'll dance. That's so rude to leave your partner hanging. Go make a fool of yourself for your love, for your spouse. To have God dancing over us but to not dance back, to not reciprocate that back, to lag in diligence and to be unfervent in zeal, what a crime! He's like, I literally died for you, given you everything, given you your spirit, giving given a calling.
I just, you know, yeah, I'm on team Jesus, yay. Totally checked that box on the census. He didn't die for you to check a box, guys. He died for you to be a living sacrifice. Verse 3, let them praise Him with the dance. Is any clearer than that? Yahweh, praise him with the dance. Because the Lord, verse 4, takes pleasure in his people. He's pleased by your passion. There's a time and a place for passion. Of course, hear what I'm saying. It's not about drawing attention to yourself. It's about putting attention on him. It's knowing the moment, knowing the movement. But I think there's such a place for it.
What it's hindered by, that's the next heading I want you to take some notes down under. What is halal hindered by, this foolish praise? I think, obviously, our ego. I don't want to look foolish. It's hindered by our self-importance. Don't want to debase myself, demean myself. I'm not that person. I'm not going to get carried away jumping, whirling. Doesn't even make any sense. It's hindered by our upbringing. Hindered by shame. Hindered by feelings of worth. I'm not worthy to worship, to really give myself over to this. Hindered by self consciousness. Just aware of ourselves too much, focused on ourselves too much, not lost in who He is, the magnificence and worth that will cause you to not care. I think it's hindered by other people, and us looking at them instead of Him, and forgetting our praise is never for each other, it's for Him.
I don't know if you are aware, but the whole thing that happens with music and stuff, whether you walk out and go, that was a really good one, or a really bad one, or really, really liked that song or didn't like that song, I don't know if you're aware, but it's not for you. It's meant to go through you to Him. Our praise and the atmosphere that comes, my friend Brooke Ligertwood likes to say, is not something for us to be enjoyed. It's something for us to be giving. So a byproduct, of course, is the enjoyment, but you enjoy it a lot more when you're seeking to give it and not take it. And if you've ever left a church because you weren't getting fed, or the music's better over here, or you like the temperature of the baptism tank better over there, they added hot tub jets to that one, or the communion juice was like a little different vintage or whatever it was. And like, you are missing it.
We are not to come to consume. We come to give an offering. We're come to give our praise. We're coming to give our lives. We are the church. We exist for God's glory. We're here to reach the world. So the consumer mentality, I think, is another part of why we would come in such a way, because we get to feel dignified the whole time. This is for me. And if it's not meeting my needs, I'll just go somewhere else. I have no room for it, of course, in my life and schedule. But when I do ever have accidentally a moment with someone who wants me to audition for them to be their pastor, we're thinking of making this whole church, well, here we are now. Entertain us. Yeah, I don't, no, no. That's not going to work. I I'm not a dance monkey, first of all. But second of all, I'm going to invite you to serve. I'm going to invite you to put your shoulder to the palm. I'm going to invite you to lose yourself.
That's what we are to be a part of, to give ourselves to Him. And that mentality, I think, takes away the zeal that God wants us to not lag in from remembering it's all for Him. What we do on this stage, what we do in this room, what we do in these environments in this moment is not for us. It's for Him. The question isn't, did we like it? Did you like my sermon? Did you like the music? Did you like that experience? The question is, did He? Did He? Was it pleasing to Him? And how do we do that? We get ourselves out of it by crucifying our flesh, nailing it to the cross, and being willing to be foolish. This is what happened when David praised. David praised God, dancing before the Lord, not alone. Not drawing attention to himself.
When you read the story out of context, it makes it seem like everyone was just watching David bust out his best Justin Timberlake moves. Like that's how you probably read 2 Samuel 6. David danced and whirled before the Lord, and he did it in probably a g-string. Have you seen Scandalous, right? Because you misread the scripture. He took off his clothes. He's dancing. Everyone's like, wow, look at the King. And yeah, and then we're like, I'm with Michal on this one, right? His wife, he was in the wrong, man. Like team Michal, right? Because she's a little salty that he was dancing with all these girls. And you're like, I think that's right. No, no, no, no. Listen, listen. Some of you are really confused because you don't read your Bibles.
2 Samuel 6, it's a thing. The Ark is being brought back to Jerusalem, or brought to Jerusalem after it had been away for a while, had been in storage for a while. Someone died when they brought it in wrong because God does care about how we worship, FYI. And so now it's getting brought in. David, overcome by what it means to be blessed by God, took off his royal robes and danced with the servant girls. Now you're like, wait a minute. What is the deal? Here's the deal. In that day in that culture, it had become a thing where like I told you about how people wanted to be fat and pasty, they also had this weird thing about dancing. They knew that dancing should be a part of the Jewish life, and Jewish feasting, and all of this, but they sort of delegated it to not just servants but servant girls. And in this fierce patriarchal society, that was like a way to really demote it several levels down.
And so for a King to take off the trappings of royalty and be basically wearing a wife beater, and some Carhartts, and some Red Wings, and to get out there and dance, he was sending a message to the nation. That it's not about who we are. It's about who He is. It's about what He's done, and I got to dance. I got to express this. I just can't. When I think about it, he's a man after God's own heart, and he's overcome by who God was and what was happening, the significance and the import of God's presence. And so he joined those who were the servant class and a despised sex. A picture of the gospel breaking those categories that people put up, showing how the gospel has come to break down the barriers of I'm a man so I'm more important. I'm a woman, so, we're just one in Christ. And so David danced. And when Michal despised him, because she despised him passing by and says, how dignified you were. You have to remember, she's Saul's daughter. Saul would never dance. Saul had servants to do that.
Yes, you may now worship God on my behalf. You can't delegate worship! You may now worship God. Make it a good one. Make it very good while I stand here in my royal robes where everyone can see how sick I am. That's what Michal thought kings look like. David said, that's not it. Taking off the robes, humbling himself, he was foolish for God, boasting in his God, clamorous for God, having to jump, having to express why, to lose himself, not to bring attention to himself. It was just the opposite. To say, guys, this is what it means to love Him. This is what it means to serve Him. This is what it means to be His people, to bring Him praise, to rage praise for the Lord. And he said, if you think that's bad, I'm going to get even more undignified than this. You haven't even seen me halal nothing, y'all. That's what he said. He said, baby, you ain't seen nothing yet.
2 Samuel chapter 6. And I love what CS Lewis said. He said, I think we have it on screen, the most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance. Because when you read the Psalms, you're seeing a lot of action with bodies, bowing, rising, jumping, standing. It's like he's sitting there with his cup of tea going, wait a minute, there needs to be, there's not just be some intellectual exercise. What it's imitated by, next heading, what's the next closest imitation to halal praise? It's getting smashed. The next closest thing is not sitting cerebrally through a church experience that you showed up late for. Someone say ouch. The next closest thing would be getting smashed at a party. That would be the next closest thing to halal. The closest you can come on Earth is getting ripped with some friends and laughing in the woods because you're going to dance. Because the inhibitions are gone. Because the confidence is there. Because now you don't care so much how stupid you look, and you do look stupid. But that's the next closest thing.
You see that in the book of Acts when filled with the spirit they're themselves, and they don't care so much. And they're not, how do I look? Am I OK? Do I have my robes on right? Am I good? Am I good? They're just like, God is good, and we're going to change the world. And we're fearless, and we're confident. We're coming because He's alive. People are like, they must be drunk. No one acts like that unless they're drunk. They never accused the Pharisees of being drunk. If we're doing it right, people are going to think there's some craziness and maybe it's chemically altered, right? If we're following God right, the question should at times be like, are you on something? Yeah, there ain't no high like the most high, y'all. I'm telling, you halal is a real confidence booster. There's a real strength that comes from that. There's a real losing yourself. You're a fool and you don't care who knows it.
The religious spirit knows only how to scorn the passion. That's not real. That's hype. That's manufactured. I like the manufactured hype better than your pious arrogance. The older brother who would not even go into the feast. Why? Because he couldn't hear the music. You've never given me a party. Bro, I've given you everything you ever even wanted, and more. You never gave me this. You didn't ask for it. No music, no sound of dancing, no sound of joy was coming from his walk with his father. But the one who had sinned greatly and fallen hopelessly at his father's feet, there was music and dancing coming from that dance floor. So the more we keep in check with who He is and the fact that we deserve nothing, the more we're going to do what?
Mark 10:15, be like a little child. Thus, we get to enter the kingdom of God. Little kids, they don't care who's...you're embarrassing yourself. That was the idea, right? It's like, actually, I'm embarrassing you. Because you foolishly get your self identity from how I respond. I don't. I don't. No, I'm not saying this is a case for being a bad child. What I'm saying is there's something to just being a follower of Jesus and not caring. I am willing to be counted as a Christian. I'm a follower of Jesus. I've gone all in. I went into the waters of baptism. I came out different. That's not who I was. I was forgiven all my sins. All of them are gone. I've been cleansed. I'm headed to heaven. I'm not ashamed to be excited about that. What it unleashes is our last heading, and we're done. Team, come on up here. We'll sing in a moment. What it unleashes is power.
Verse 6, Psalm 149. Look at it again. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth and a two edged sword in their hand. I think there's a cause and effect relationship to these two. I think it's because the praises of God are in their mouth that the sword of God was in their hand, meaning that when we worship, things change. When we praise, mountains move. When we worship, walls fall down. When we sing in sincerity, when we leap and become the fool to give light to Him, when there's rage praise in our lives, there's a sword in our hands. It happens in the room, and it can happen on your bed. I love that he says praise Him with your halal and the assembly. Get foolish for God when we're singing a hype song. When there's a beat and you're feeling it, you jump. You have the conference I loved, I loved, I loved the energy of students at the front. I loved the praise pit. I love that, and that's welcome here.
There's not some need to be all, you know, because God forbid you give better energy to the club than you do God's house. To the bar, than you do, that song that you belted, because again, they've got the liquid courage there. We got the liquid courage here, too. It's called living water, and it pours out like a river from our hearts. What it unleashes is power, is breakthrough, is confidence. It's supernatural authority. It's dreams and revelations. It's strength for today, and a vision for tomorrow. And some of you who have had your baby toe in the pool, it's time for a cannonball into the deep end.
Now of course, this weapon, this sword, it's not for earthly battles. Because we don't wage war against flesh and blood, but against, Ephesians 6 says principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. But our weapons that we have are not carnal. They are mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments. Every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. I am telling you, when you, in moments of fear; when you, in moments of depression; when you, in moments of sadness; when you in low moments when you don't feel like it but you praise Him anyway, you force yourself into acknowledging the truth that Jesus Christ reigns as master, and Savior, and Lord forever enthroned above your pain, enthroned above your grief, enthroned above your sicknesses, enthroned above your fear.
You look down at hands that were empty a moment ago, and there's a two edged sword in your hand. And it works just as well in the gathering as it does on your bed. And in those moments, you don't have the band, those moments you don't have each other, but in those moments, that's why it's so important to practice it here so we can do it out there. My daughter was making fun of me because that's what my daughters do, and that's the joy of family, isn't it? Laughter, and mocking, and it's just, no one gets to be a big deal. In your family, that's the amazing thing. How do you stay humble? I'm married, OK? That's the answer to the question. Trying to pop a zit on my back two hours ago, OK? You can't think you're a big deal. And my daughter was telling me, she's like... because we flew home from New York. We had watched some tennis, and it was just, I was watching this halal spirit over tennis lubricated by alcohol.
People were excited, and dancing was the natural outcome. Every time they showed different people on the monitor on the jumbotron in the arena, the immediate thing was just to start dancing, and be ridiculous, and be foolish, and be stupid, and lift their shirts up, and chug their beer, and kiss somebody, and pretend to fall over. Why? Because they were just foolish, and stupid, and caught up, swept up in the moment. But I'll tell you, being, I'd never been to a professional tennis match. As a lifelong tennis fan, I was so excited to see it in person, but it changed the way I watched tennis afterwards.
That's what she was making fun of me for. Because as we were flying home, there was another match on the in-flight entertainment system. And I was just, like, so much more excited having been there. And having been caught up in the joy of it in the arena, it changed how I watched it by myself. And so when we can learn to praise Him together, we'll have the power and authority to praise Him by ourselves. Because here there's that pull. In these moments, there's the magnetism. And so how you sing it here will shape how you change out there. You'll get used to it. You'll know the markings of the trail head, what you can do, what can happen, how things can just cause the clouds to be pushed away. And the lights are shining. And so we're going to take some time to sing and to worship.
And Father, we ask that in this pregnant moment of expectation and faith that if anyone here today does not know You as Savior, you would draw them to Yourself.
Chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If you're here today watching online, every location, and some of the tumblers have clicked into place today for you to sense and to see that, and you would say, I want to step into the light. I want to get out of the casket of sin. I want to get off the highway to hell and climb that stairway to heaven. That can't happen without the Holy Spirit of God.
If as we're praying, if your heart's beating out of your chest, you feel like that's me, I'm headed to hell. I'm lost. I'm broken. I'm hopeless. I want to join the dance of God. If that's you I'm describing, can I just ask that right where you are you just raise your hand up. Just raise your hand if you're saying, I need to be forgiven. I need to be set free. Raise your hand up. Raise your hand up. If you sense the Spirit, don't put this off. Don't say, I'll do this later. Don't say, I'll get right with God tomorrow. Right there in Portland, right there in Salt Lake City, raise your hand up. In your living room in Omaha, raise your hand, raise your hand, raise your hand, raise your hand.
Come on, church. Celebrate me those responding to God. Celebrate with me. Celebrate with me. Faith is rising. Salvation is coming. And here. Anybody else? We'll wait just a moment longer. Some of you need to make this decision. Raise your hand up. Raise your hand up. You might not have tomorrow. You might not have next Easter. Today's the day of salvation. Raise your hand up. Raise your hand up. Step into the light. Thank you, God. You can put your hands down. Say this with me. All of us pray. No one praying alone. Church, let's say this with those making this decision.
Dear God, I give you my heart. Thank you for dying for me. Thank you for new life. I give you mine. In Jesus' name, amen.