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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mark Batterson » Mark Batterson - A Place of Worship

Mark Batterson - A Place of Worship

Mark Batterson - House of Miracles and Place of Worship
TOPICS: Welcome Home, Church, Worship

When I was in high school, I drove a car affectionately referred to as the Batmobile. Batterson, Batmobile. But don't let the name fool you. It was a 1984 Dodge Colt, black and white, but I got into fender bender. Only part we could find for that front panel was white. Looked a little bit something like that. This is the only picture I could find. Now, listen, I'm not sure who the guy is in the picture. I went through three clutches 'cause I'm not very good at stick shift. At some point, the muffler fell off, probably 'cause I tried jumping snow drifts. But that's not all bad because this was before cell phones. I didn't even have to call my friends when I was coming over. They heard me a few blocks away. The car wasn't much to look at, there wasn't much horsepower under the hood. But there was one feature that I loved. It had twin stick transmission. I don't even know what that means. All I know is there was a lever with an "E" and a "P". And the E stood for economy and the P... Oh, that P. Oh, how I love that. P stood for power.

Anyone wanna guess? I got pulled over 13 times in high school. There was so much power under the hood. Can I tell you what I think God is doing as I step back and discern the season that we're in as a church? Please hear me. God is shifting us from "E" to "P". "Pastor Mark, what does that mean"? I think it means Spirit-led and Spirit-filled. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us. "He is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His..." What? "His power that's at work in us". And I would suggest that that "P" stands for prayer. That that "P" stands for praise. And when we get our prayer on, when we get our praise on, there is a power. God is taking us to another level, another dimension. This is a house of prayer and this is a house of praise. Can I get a amen right there?

Well, welcome to National Community Church in person, online. You're not here by accident. Hope you feel seen, heard, loved. Even if it's your first time, welcome home. Last Thursday, we launched House of Prayer. It was unbelievable. And we are consecrating an upper room, a place where all we do is pray. I wanna show you a couple of pictures. We had some holy moments. It was holy ground. Can I remind us of a core value we have at NCC? We pray like it depends on God and we work like it depends on us. And when we do that, some really good things happen. 'Cause when we work, we work, but when we pray, God works. Prayer is the difference between the best we can do and the best God can do. Prayer is the way we write history before it happens. And I think when we begin to pray and praise, it creates what the Celtic Christians called a Thin Place, a place where Heaven meets Earth, and I might even suggest a place where Heaven begins to invade Earth.

And so open invitation is we gather on Thursdays at 7:14 PM. Capital turnaround, House of Prayer. And then we open our upper room this coming week. And so excited. It'll be open during office hours, so if you need a place to pray or praise or meditate or just read Scripture, wide-open invitation. And then we'll have corporate times of prayer called Prayer Sets, and so you can find that at But stay on your toes. We are desire-pathing. We are experimenting with different rhythms and times, and so that may change the first couple of weeks. And so go check it out and can't wait to press in, pray through together. Well, ready or not, here we go. If you have a Bible, you can turn over and meet me in the ninth century BC. Second Chronicles 20. Jehoshaphat, say that five times fast, is the king of Judah. When the Moabites and Ammonites invade Israel, Jehoshaphat has no idea what to do. And this is when many of us hit the panic button, but Jehoshaphat hits the praise button. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that's what we're gonna talk about this weekend.

Second Chronicles 23, It says, "Jehoshaphat was alarmed". And alarmed would be an understatement. This is a five-alarm fire. Bring me the red shirt. This is when most of us resort to lizard brain. We go into fight or flight. We react to the circumstances around us, but I wanna remind us today, leadership is not just setting the agenda. I think leadership is setting the tone. Edwin Freedman said that, "Leadership is being a non-anxious presence". Like when you walk in the room, does the anxiety level go up? "Oh boy"! Or does it go down? I think leadership is about staying calm and carrying on, and that's what Jehoshaphat does. He "was alarmed, but he set his face to seek the Lord and proclaim a fast throughout all Judah". Well, what does it mean to seek the Lord? That's a phrase that we see throughout Scripture.

Can I give you a simple definition? It's giving God my full attention and my full affection. It's really that simple. That is how I'm trying to start my day these days. "Oh, God, I give You my full attention. Here I am, Lord. And I give You my full affection. Here's my heart". Can I make a distinction? Come on. Let's not just be a people that seek God's hand. What God can do for us. Let's be a people that seek God's heart and may God give us a heart that breaks for the things that break the heart of God. And so he sets his face to seek the Lord. And the prayer I'm praying for us as a church right now is, "God, give us a supernatural hunger for Your Word and for Your presence. An insatiable hunger that no sermon can satisfy, in Jesus' name". And before we dive into the story, let me go wide angle. If we did a word association and I said "worship," what comes to mind?

I think for a lot of us, we think about singing songs on a Sunday morning, and listen, that is one piece of the key lime pie, no doubt. But singing? It's a powerful thing. Spiritually, psychologically, even physiologically. I kind of geek out on this stuff, so let me have a little bit of fun. There is a monastery in Britain where the monks play music and have found that cows serenaded by Mozart produced more milk. JD, give it a try? I don't know. I don't know. At Tallahassee Regional Memorial Hospital, Dr. Matthew, I like this one. A study of premature babies found that 60 minutes of lullabies reduced the baby's hospital stay by five days. There's a bakery in Nagoya, Japan that's famous for its Beethoven bread. They claim that Symphony No. 6 helps the bread rise. And there are horticulturists in Denver who have experimented with different musical selections and different greenhouses and have found that Bach causes a sonic bloom.

Now in the words of musicologist, Don Campbell, "Music lulls children to sleep and marches men to war. Music lets the child in us play, the monk in us pray, the cowgirl in us line dance, and the hero in us surmount all obstacles". Have you ever watched a movie? Like I'm even talking Rocky, I'm talking Gladiator, I'm talking Braveheart. I'm talking about anything that gets the adrenaline going without a soundtrack? Boring. A life without worship. It just doesn't do it. But God has given us a soundtrack where, when our life becomes alive, singing is a superpower. For the record, God is rejoicing over you with singing: Zephaniah 3. God is singing songs of deliverance all around you all the time: Psalm 32. So please hear me, this will transform your worship. Worship isn't just singing to God. No, no. It's singing back to the God Who sings over us. Who sings around us. All we're doing is singing back.

And when we do, we join an angel chorus. We are mirroring what is happening in Heaven as the angels, the elders, the living creatures. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come. Worthy of glory and honor and power and praise". And they never stop singing. Why does worship feel so right? Because it's what you were created to do. You can't not worship. You cannot. And if you don't worship the Almighty Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, you will substitute something. You have to because it is the way that we're designed. Having said that, let me say this, okay? Hard right turn. Worship is a lifestyle. Can we start there? But worship has more to do with motivation than music. God sees what we do with our voice, oh, but worship is what we do with our heart. I mean a study is found the once you sing a song 30 times, you no longer think about the lyrics.

Last time I checked, that's called lip-syncing. That's not worship. In fact, I sure hope our worship goes beyond lyrics that someone else wrote that are on a screen. Last week I said, prayer is a muscle. Prayer is a language. I would say the same thing about worship. It's a muscle. It's a language. And it takes time. Let me give you a simple definition. Worship is worth ship. It's describing ultimate worth and honor and glory to God. "Every good and perfect gift comes from above": James 1. It's all from God. It's all for God. Worship is giving credit where credit is due and whatever you don't turn into praise turns into pride. The chief end of man is the glorify God and enjoy Him forever: Westminster Catechism. I think worship is glorifying God and actually enjoying it. And there are a thousand ways you can do that. I worship God with a gratitude journal.

Think I'm on number 511 this year. I worship God by serving. Break a sweat, love on other people. Oh God, I worship You. I worship God with my giving. That tithe can be a real sacrifice of praise, can't it? Worship is anything that glorifies God. 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God". I think it's using our time, talent, treasure for His purposes. Worship, living for the applause of nail-scarred hands. Worship is giving God our best effort. I wanna think big picture here, 'cause I want to empower you to realize that there is no part of your life or your day that it cannot be transformed into an act of worship.

Now, one of my favorite movies as a kid was Chariots of Fire. Remember Eric Little won the gold medal, 1924 Paris Olympics in the 400 meters? Set an Olympic record, a gold medal. And he said, "When I run, I feel His pleasure". I love that so much. Can I make it personal? When I write, I feel His pleasure because I know it's what I'm called to do. So when I sit down at my computer, I take off my shoes. I literally take off my shoes because I feel like it's holy ground. And I do not type on a keyboard. I worship God with the 26 letters of the English alphabet. Say, "Oh God, help me take thoughts captive and make 'em obedient to you". 2nd Corinthians 10:5. I don't know what you do, but you can do it to the glory of God.

Martin Luther said, "The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty, not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes". His namesake Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr said, "If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, Beethoven composed music, Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of Heaven will pause and say, 'Here lived a street sweeper who did his job well.'" Excellence honors God. No crooked table legs or ill-fitted drawers, I dare say, ever came out of the carpenter shop in Nazareth. Dorothy Sayers, one of my all-time favorites: "Worship. It's a lifestyle".

But there's another dimension. There's another function. Are you willing to go deeper? Are you willing to go higher? Are you willing today for God to shift you from economy to power? Then I want you to hear what I'm about to say. Worship is a weapon. And I mean that defensively and I mean it offensively. We're not playing games. Have you looked around you? We live in a fallen world. We are born on a battlefield between good and evil. And by the way, that dividing line was drawn when an angel who led worship wanted to be worshiped himself. It seems to me, theologically, that worship is the dividing line. Worship is a weapon. Second Chronicles 20:12. "We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us".

Jehoshaphat confronts the brutal facts, and this is a little play on the Stockdale Paradox. You've heard me talk about it before. The odds are against them. This is, "We can't win. No way, no how". Israel is outnumbered. The odds are impossible. Jehoshaphat confronts the brutal facts, but he does so with unwavering faith. "We don't know what to do, but our eyes are on You". I'm gonna ask you a question. Maybe jot this down. What do you do when you don't know what to do? You can eat ice cream. Jenny's Ice Cream. Brown butter brittle, whatever. Oh man, hallelujah. You can eat ice cream. It's fine. You can binge Netflix. Lot of binging during COVID, right? You can complain about your circumstances. You can kind of crawl into a fetal position. There are lots of ways. You can do lots of different things when you don't know what to do, but I'm gonna challenge you today that when you don't know what to do, give God some praise. Give God the worship He deserves.

Now I wanna make a distinction between two kinds of worship. Jot this down if you're taking notes. Sometimes we worship because of our circumstances, and sometimes we worship in spite of our circumstances. Now I'm not gonna spend a lot of time on worshiping because of our circumstances, 'cause, honestly, it's hard not to. There are days where it's out of the overflow of "God is good all the time. All the time God is good". And it just kind of rolls off of our tongue. I would call that Worship 1.0. And we better give God the praise when things are going good. Yeah? But I wanna focus on sometimes we need to worship God in spite of our circumstances. It's on the bad days, it's when you don't like it. I would suggest that when you least feel like worship, sometimes it's the most meaningful worship that you can give to God. The hardest praise is the highest praise and the highest praise sometimes is the hardest praise. It's Job on the worst day of his life. Loses everything, falls on his face, and worships God. "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord". God help us.

Acts 16. Paul and Silas arrested for preaching the gospel. They're flogged, thrown in prison. Bad day, long day. Is that fair? About midnight... Let's put that verse up. About midnight, Paul and Silas were complaining, "God, how could you let this happen"? That's not what it says. About midnight, Paul and Silas were sleeping? No. "About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns and the other prisoners were listening". Those other prisoners had to be wondering, "What is going on up in here? Who are these people"?

Listen, some people, when you worship in hard circumstances, will think that you're out of touch with reality. I'm not out of touch with reality. I'm in touch with a reality that is greater than what I can see or taste or touch or feel or smell. There's an old adage, "Those who hear not the music think the dancer is mad". Come on, you ever seen anybody in their car, rush hour traffic, you're trying to dial back the road rage, and you look over and there's someone you can't hear. They are singing at the top of their voice. They're dancing while driving. They're slow dancing with the steering wheel. Maybe they have an "E"-to-"P" lever that is just making them so, I don't know. I don't know. What's going on?

I'll tell you what's going on. They are dialed into a different station. They are listening to a different song. If you're just dialed into what everybody else is listening to, oh, Lord, help us. These are the moments we worship God in spite of our circumstances. "There is a God who gives songs in the night," Psalm 42. "There is a God who gives the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness". And I want to tell you right now, one of the greatest witnesses to the world around you is actually worshiping during tough times. 'Cause when I see, "I need some of that. What is that 'cause I need some of that"? Look what happens. "Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundation of the prison who was shaken".

Come on, your praise can open prison doors. Worship 1.0 is worshiping because of our circumstances, Worship 2.0: Worshiping in spite of our circumstances. I would say Worship 2.0 is praising over our problems. It's praising over our circumstances. We sang a song, "Raise a hallelujah. My weapon is a melody". There are moments where you just can't let what's wrong keep you from worshiping what's right with God. Charles Spurgeon said, "I've learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages". There are moments in life where, Laura and I had this conversation and she had used this phrase, "forgive reality". And I think we might have been talking about some of the battles with cancer and some of the things we've walked through. And I almost feel like worship is the way we forgive reality.

"Okay. It is what it is. I don't love it. Don't even like it. But I'm gonna kiss the wave and I'm gonna believe that God is gonna get me..." It's giving God that sacrifice of praise, and that is easier said than done. That is easier said than sung. But whatever you don't turn into praise turns into pain. Let me make another distinction. You can worship God past tense or future tense. And we're kind of going grad school here, okay? I mean, it's hard enough. Worship 1.0 is hard enough, but I just feel God is shifting us. He's shifting us and Worship 1.0 is past tense praise. It's thanking God after He does it. And let's do more of that. Let's be really good at giving credit where credit is due. Worship 1.0 is gratitude for what God has already done. But Worship 2.0 is future tense. It's beginning, "Oh God, I praise You. You're gonna do it. I'm standing on Your promises".

Now listen, prayer and praise, same thing. Twofold litmus test. Gotta be in the will of God and for the glory of God. I don't call those shots. "But God, I'm standing on Your promises. I'm gonna begin to praise You even through these tough circumstances, I'm gonna praise through just like I pray through". In House of Prayer, I literally felt this shifting happening. The shifting happening. When we worship, it begins to shift the atmosphere. When we worship, it begins to shift my attitude. When we worship, it elevates our faith. It activates the gifts of the Spirit. Can I give you a crash course in Church history? This is gonna be like the 60-second Church history version. The tipping point, the turning point, is Acts 13:2 in my mind.

Now, listen, I'm not discounting Acts 2. It's the birth of the Church. God pours 120 people praying in upper room. Game on. But Acts 13:2, a little phrase, "While they were worshiping..." See, you read the rest of the book of Acts, and what happens is God, in the context of worship, sets apart Paul and Barnabas to send them out. God turns the Church inside out. What happens is this: Every missionary Paul goes on, every missionary journey, every church that Paul plants, every Epistle that Paul writes, traces back to this Genesis moment "While they were worshiping". I'm not smart enough to figure out most things, but I know the difference between a lag measure and a lead measure. We all want lag measures. We want, "Oh God, add all these things to me". Matthew 6:33 and we get the sequence totally wrong. Jesus said, "Seek first, and then all these things".

You get that backwards, it's just not gonna work out. And I think praise just takes the ceiling off of everything. Because God inhabits the praises of His people. This is when and how and where healing happens and deliverance happens and revelation happens. Oh God, I pray for those thin places where Heaven invades Earth in Jesus' name. More than 30 years ago, I took Laura on a boat cruise on Lake Michigan, and you can watch the sun set over the city skyline. And that's where I asked Laura to marry me. And she said, "Yes," because of my car. In spite of my car. And it was pretty epic. It was pretty romantic.

But here's the catch: You get on that boat on the Chicago River, and the Chicago River, the elevation is lower than Lake Michigan. And so in order to get on the Lake Michigan, in order for us to get engaged, I needed that boat to go into a lock. The Chicago Harbor Lock. 22 feet deep, 80 feet wide, 600 feet long. That lock is a water elevator. When the boats are in the lock, the operator opens the gates, and the water begins to come in, and slowly that boat begins to raise. It takes about five minutes, but raises those boats about five feet. Then and only then can a boat get from the Chicago River onto Lake Michigan. Without that lock, we don't get engaged. Well, we get engaged some other way. Some of us are stuck on the Chicago River. How do I get out there? I'm gonna tell you how. You get in a water elevator called worship. You deserve it, God. "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord". You woke me up.

Everything minus Jesus is nothing. Jesus plus nothing is everything. We have everything to worship God about. God inhabits the praises of His people. Joshua 6:1, "Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one came in, no one went out". Impossible situation. Stick with me just a few more minutes. This is when and where we bring out the battering ram. We try to manufacture the miracle. Let's break down the door. But you know what? Worship is our Trojan horse. "Then the Lord said to Joshua, I have delivered Jericho into your hands". Did you catch the verb tense? Grammatically speaking, it's wrong. It's past tense. It should be future tense because it hasn't happened yet. But wait, not in the physical realm it hasn't, but it has already happened in the spiritual realm.

There have been moments in my life where I breakthrough in prayer, where I breakthrough in praise, and my circumstances don't look any different. But I know that I know that I know that there is a God who hears and answers and somehow what was in my hands is now in your hands. One of the things that the Lord has revealed, we are discerning God, "How are You gonna move and work in House of Prayer and Upper Room"? It's been so fun. My journal is filled as I begin to discern, as we begin to discern. One of the things that we have discerned is that we're gonna walk out of those environments lighter. Almost like, I weigh 34 pounds on the moon. Did you know this? And now you can do the math and figure out what I weigh on earth, okay? But I weigh 34 pounds on the moon.

Listen, I think God wants us... There's so much heaviness right now. But God gives the garment of praise, "the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness". And so when we walk out. Man, while I'm on the subject, I think you ought miss Church when you miss church. I think you always ought walk out feeling better than when you walked in. Now there might be some moments in between of some conviction, some things that need to get right with God, but you can always leave those at the foot of the cross and walk out forgiven and graced by God. And I would say one more thing. If it's not life-giving, it's not the gospel. It's probably legalism. There's a God Who, I just sense it, it's what the Lord's doing as He shifts us, that we're gonna be a people that operate with a greater lightness, little extra skip in our step. And so this is not theory to NCC. This is testimony. And what I'm talking about is Jericho. They circled for seven days, seven times on the seventh day.

It's not theory to us because there's a crack house we circled for five years, that is now Ebenezers Coffeehouse. There is an abandoned apartment building that we circled for years that is now the DC Dream Center. There's a blue castle that we circled, didn't even know it, but God would turn it into the Capital Turnaround. Come on, we're gonna keep circling. We're gonna keep worshiping and we're gonna see what God does. Woo. I gotta get where this is going. Jump down, 2 Chronicles 20:21. We're almost there, almost done. "The king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army". Wait, what? "Singing to the Lord and praising Him for His mighty splendor. This is what they sang: 'We are the champions, my friends. We'll keep on fighting till the end. We are the champions. No time for losers. We are the champion. We are champions of the world.'"

I'm gonna regret that. We are more than conquerors. Me embarrassing myself a little bit reminds us, "No, no, no. Exercise that authority. Activate that faith". No false humility, no pride, but no false humility. But I love what they declare: That the Lord, His love endures forever. Now, if I'm calling the shots, I'll be honest: I send the guys with shields. I send the guys with spears. Jehoshaphat sends the sopranos. This is the worst battle plan ever, pause, if you're the one fighting it. The battle belongs to the Lord. I'm gonna prove it. "You go out there and praise Me and let's see what happens". When we worship, our God fights for us. When we praise God in spite of. When we praise God, future tense. When we prophesy our praise. When we begin to praise over our circumstances.

Worship is a weapon. "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds". Final thought: There's nothing that the enemy hates more than your worship. Why? Because it reminds him of who he was. Do you understand this? He doesn't want anything to do with it, wants to get outta earshot. But it doesn't just remind the enemy of who... It reminds us of Who God is. This is when and where and how healing happens. Deliverance happens. Breakthrough happens. Words of wisdom, words of knowledge, and the miracles of God begin to manifest themselves. In Jesus' name. Amen and amen and amen.
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