Matt Hagee - What Matters Most
If you brought your Bibles, turn them to John 4, beginning at the 23rd verse, as this morning we begin a brand-new series entitled "What a way to live". In the world that we're currently existing in, people are asking, "How do you live"? Today, I want to begin to explain what the Bible has to say about how we should live with this first message, "What matters most". If I were to ask you, "What matters most in a church service, what's the most important part of the entire thing that takes place on Sunday while we're here," some would say it's the sermon. Others might say it's the altar call. Some would feel that it's the offering where we have the opportunity to have God raise the windows of heaven and pour out blessings on our lives. Some would say it's the communion when we remember the sacrifice of the blood and the body of Jesus Christ.
What's the most important part of your everyday life? Your individual existence? You might say, "Well, it's my physical health, because if I don't have my health, I can't enjoy any of my other blessings". Some of you may claim that the most important part of your everyday life you can get through whatever you're going through. Some might say it's your job or some other feature or facet of who you are. What I'm convinced of is that if we were to take the time to ask every individual who's here and those who are watching, "What matters most in their life," for every person, we might get a different answer and have a different conversation.
But I believe that if we were to speak to heaven above today, if we were to talk to the angels that are around God's throne this very moment, and ask them, "What matters most": if we could sit face to face and talk with God Almighty or listen to what Jesus Christ, our Savior and advocate, might have to say: or speak to the Holy Spirit, if we were to ask them, "What matters most, what matters most in a church service, what matters most in our daily lives, what matters most every morning when we wake up, what matters most every night when we go to bed, I believe that all of heaven would say, 'the thing that matters most is worship'". You say, "How do you say that, pastor"?
Look at what the Bible has to say. Worship, because the Lord inhabits the praises of his people. That means that he literally invades the atmosphere of your life when you begin to bless his holy name. What are the angels around God's throne doing? They're worshiping him. Isaiah describes the scene: that they're flying with two wings, and they're covering their face with two more, and they're shouting one to the other, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is filled with his glory". Read the Book of Revelation and see what the New Testament saints are doing throughout the ages of eternity. They're standing around his throne, saying, "Worthy, worthy, worthy is the lamb, who was slain to receive honor, to receive riches, to receive blessings, to receive power, to receive glory forever. Amen".
Do you want to know what matters most? Read Psalm 150 where it says, "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord". If you're here today and you're breathing, you have been ordained as an instrument of praise. Therefore, praise him, because he is great and greatly to be praised. Praise him because he has awesome power. Praise him because he's full of love. Praise him because he's triumphant over powers and principalities, and he has the name above every name! But whatever you do, give the Lord a praise! Read with me John 4:23 and 24. If you're there, say, amen. "But the hour is coming, and now is when the true worshippers will worship the father in spirit and truth. For the father is seeking such to worship him. God is spirit. And those who worship him, must worship in spirit and truth".
Heavenly Father, thank you for your presence that's in this place. Now let your Holy Spirit open up our hearts to receive your word and our lives to be changed by it: that we would recognize the power of worshiping you in spirit and in truth every day that we live with every breath that we breathe. In Jesus' name, we pray and ask. And all of God's children said, amen.
You may be seated. People hear a sermon series about the topic of worship, and they say, "Why"? I mean with all of the things that are going on in the world today, with all of the matters that are quite important, with all of the political issues, and all of the personal issues, and all the of the national and international and economic issues: don't you think we've got more important things to talk about? I will tell you that I don't think there's anything more important to talk about, because worship changes things. When you read John 4, there are quite a few things that you could focus on. There's political issues. There's personal issues. There's private issues. There's public issues. There's all kinds of issues that you could extract from this chapter. But there's only one thing that Jesus wants to talk about and that's worship. Why? Because worship changes things.
Say that with me. "Worship changes things". Just consider some of the issues of John 4. Begin at verse 4. In John 4:4, it says that Jesus needed to go to Samaria. Now when you read the entire chapter, what you understand is that he and his disciples are down here just below Jerusalem in the southern part of the nation of Israel in the Jordan. John the Baptist has had a successful ministry. And the pharisees have found out that Jesus is doing better than John. And so to avoid persecution, he's going from the southern part of Israel where he's been ministering, back to the Sea of Galilee, which is in the northern part of Israel. But the Bible says in John 4:4 that he needed to go to Samaria.
Now Jesus said that he did not go and he did not do and he did not speak unless the spirit of the father told him to do so. So he's here in the south, and he's got to go north to get back to the Sea of Galilee. But on his journey, the Holy Spirit says, let's take a two-day diversion, and take a detour over here to Samaria, because there's a certain woman who's going to be at a certain well at a certain time, and she's got certain needs. And you, Jesus, have the answer to all of her problems. The first thing that that does is it encourages me, as I think about the fact that we serve a God who will go out of his way to meet your needs. He does not mind coming to find you in the middle of your mess, and when he gets there, brings you the answer that you've been waiting for. There's not just the location that Jesus went out of his way to Samaria, but there's the political issues and the prejudicial issues of where he's at and who he's with. The Jews and the Samaritans had nothing to do with each other.
John 4:9, the woman at the well, seeing that Jesus is a rabbi, she says, "Jews have no dealings with Samaritans". She was just stating the fact. Your people hate my people. Why are you being nice to me? The 12 disciples, who were with Jesus, when they saw where he was going, they were like, hey, Jesus, let's not go there. That's the wrong side of town, man. Stay away from those people. They don't deserve us. They don't deserve your ministry. They don't deserve your blessings. They don't deserve healing. They don't deserve all of the things that you've been doing everywhere that you've been going. I know God sent you, and I know you're the Son of God. But those people don't deserve him. That's prejudiced. Jesus is sitting there by the well, and he immediately lets everybody know that the living water that he has to give is not for a certain type of people: it's for anyone who needs a drink.
The disciples don't want to be here. This is the wrong side of town filled with the wrong kind of people who don't deserve the kind of love that only God can give. But isn't it amazing when we realize that God loves people we don't even like? The Samaritan woman, just think about her. We could talk about her for hours. I mean at least she's honest. Jesus is going to give her a blessing. And he tells her, "Go get your husband". And she's honest. She says, "I don't have a husband". That's partially true. Jesus looks at her and says, "You're right: you don't have a husband currently. You've had five in your past". And she says, "I think you're a prophet". One of the most humorous verses, to me, in all of the Bible comes from John 4:39. This is when the woman goes into town, and she tells all of the people in town, "Come with me. I've met the Messiah".
Now she had a reputation in town. Everybody knew the kind of girl she was. Everybody knew who she'd been with, and they were talking about who she might have been with. And they look at her, and they say, "You? You've met the Messiah? You've met the one that's prophesied to come? Why would he come to town and talk to you"? And she says, "Because I've met a man who told me everything I've ever done," which is when everybody went, "Wait: woe. We've got to go talk to this guy".
Jesus, in spite of all of the things that he could have talked about, in spite of all of the political issues, the prejudicial issues, the religious issues: the one thing that he wants to talk about is worship. Why? Because for everything that's going wrong in the situation, what Jesus is communicating is that if we can get worship right, then some of the other things that we've been struggling with will start to change under the power and the presence of God. Don't dismiss the topic of worship as being something for spiritual people, because worship is not for spiritual people. Worship is for real people with real problems who have real needs, with a real past, in search of real answers, who are trying to live in a real world today.
"Ah, the preacher's talking about worship: that's not for me. That's not going to help me with what I'm dealing with, with what I'm living in, with what I'm walking through". Yes, it will! Why? Because worship changes things! Jesus said it this way: he said, "Those who worship God, worship him in spirit and truth". Say those two words with me. "Spirit" and "truth". What does it mean to worship God in spirit? Don't over spiritualize it. It means to worship God with passion. It means that when you praise him, you pour out your heart in thanksgiving for all that he has done, and you give him passionate praise because of everything that he's poured into your life. Do it with passion. Why? Because he deserves it.
Let me ask you this question: what if the passion and the intimacy of your relationship with your spouse here on the earth was reflected in the same measure of the intimacy that you poured out to God? Hmm. She's with me. Some of you would find it hard to have enough emotion for a good hug. Because when you come to church and you worship God, there's no reflection of the passion that you possess for him. You say, "Well you don't understand, preacher. I was raised that you just didn't show that kind of emotion in church". Okay. All due respect to your tradition, the Bible says, "Those who worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth".
Jesus said that if you're going to worship the Father, you can take your tradition and toss it, because if God's been good to you, then he deserves a great amount of your praise. What does it mean to worship him in truth? It means to worship him in a biblically accurate way. That means this: that there is a right way and there is a wrong way to worship the Lord. The right way to worship him is to where it's all about him and not about you. Your praise is not a performance. Your praise is the outpouring of your thanks and your worship to the God who's given you everything. Jesus said, "True worshippers will worship in Spirit (that's with passion) and truth, because the father is seeking". Say that with me. "The father is seeking".
What an awesome thought that God is looking for something. He can create anything out of nothing. He has all power. He has all authority. He can speak to nothing and it becomes something. But there's one thing that the God, who created heaven and earth, is looking for. He's searching for it. He's looking in every congregation. He's looking in every home. He's looking in every heart for one type of person, and that's the person who will worship him with their whole heart and do it in the right way. Because when you're that kind of person, then you're the kind of person that God himself wants to hang out with right here on earth.
Jesus is very clear in John 4. There are two spheres of influence, two places where it needs to take place. One is public: the other is private. They're not exclusive of each other. And how well you worship God privately determines what happens when you come to worship God publicly. He says to the woman in verse 21, "The hour is coming". Say that with me. "The hour is coming". What he was telling her is that when I die, the veil in the temple that separates God from the people and the people from God, when I die, that veil is going to be ripped. And there is not going to be a barrier between the presence of God and his people. So the hour is coming when the veil is ripped, and you will not need to worship God on the mountain in Jerusalem, and you will not need to worship God on the hills of Galilee, because the presence of God will be in you, and you can worship God wherever you are, whenever you want, because he dwells in you.
Paul said it this way to the church in 1 Corinthians 6:19: "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you"? He's saying, you don't come to church: you are the church. Wherever you go, whatever you're doing, that's where the church is, because you are the place where the Spirit of God dwells. When we all get together, then that's where the presence of the Lord increases in its intensity: because one of us can put a thousand to flight, and two of us, ten thousand to flight. [that's right.] Colossians 3:23 encourages us all. It says, "Whatever you do, do it heartily", that means do it with enthusiasm and do it with excellence, "As unto the Lord and not to men, knowing that your reward is from him". That means that everything your hand finds to do, you get to make it an act of praise. You can worship God in spirit with the work of your hands, saying, father, all of my work is for you, because you're the one who gave me the ability to do it.
You say, "Preacher, do you expect me to do that privately"? No, I don't: God does. Because how well you worship privately determines what happens when we worship publicly. These are not exclusive of each other. People hear, "Well, I'm the temple of the Holy Spirit. I don't have to go to church". You're dead wrong. Hebrews 10:24, "Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together". Say that with me. "Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together". Now I've heard people say, "Well pastor, those were different times". You bet they were. In Hebrews, there was a global plague that was killing millions of people. And for the Hebrews, who were part of the Christian church in Rome, they were being crucified, fed to lions, wrapped in oily rags, and burned. That's what you call political persecution, not somebody posting ugly things about you on Facebook.
And in spite of that kind of persecution and in spite of those kinds of circumstances, the Holy Spirit said, "Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together". That wasn't an option: it was a command. Without private worship, public worship is just a performance. But when you worship well privately, you impact the way we worship publicly. So that means if you come to church, and you go, "Well church just wasn't very good today," you're partly to blame. When you live a lifestyle of worship, everything that you do, every day that you do it is a sacrifice of praise unto him. God expects us to worship corporately. Why? Because when we worship corporately, we are reminded that he is "Our" father, not just my father. Some people need to realize you're not God's only child. Always talking about, "Bless me, bless me, bless me, bless me".
Some of the greatest blessings you'll ever receive in your life is when you start praying, "God, bless them. God, bless them. God, bless them". God expects us to worship corporately, because certain spiritual blessings are only available when we get together in the unity of the faith. In acts 2, the Bible clearly says that God did great signs and wonders when the church was together worshiping and praying in one accord. God wants us to worship together corporately, because we influence each other when we're together. Jesus said, "The father is seeking". I don't want you to miss that today. Who knows the heart of the father greater than the son? And he said, "The father is seeking". It literally said, if you want to know what my dad wants, he wants people who want to worship him.
And you get to see this in Psalm 148. I encourage you to read it when you go home today. It's 14 short verses. But verse 1 says, "Praise the Lord". And verses 2 through 11 talk about everything that does not have an option. It says, "All of you angels, praise the Lord. And all of the things that he has created in the heights and in the heavens, and in the moon, and the stars, and the waters, and the land". He said, "The mountains have to praise the Lord". Jesus proved this on the day of the triumphal entry when the disciples said, "Rabbi, should they praise you"? And he said, "If they don't, the rocks will". He said, "The trees should praise him for the fruit that they bear. The storms should praise him and the winds and the snowfall and the hailstones. All of it should praise him, because he commands it all with his breath". And then in verse 11, it very clearly says, "Kings, all people of the earth, princes, judges, young men, old men, children, maids and maidens, let them praise the Lord".
Everything prior to that word "Let" doesn't have a choice. It has been commanded to praise God and it will. But you and i, God gave us the option. Why? Because he wants us to want him. He wants people who are so full of love for the things that God has done, to say, "I can't help it. You've been too good to me. I can't help it. I want to worship you. I want to thank you. I want to give you honor. I want to give you glory. I want to lift up holy hands and magnify your name. I want to tell others how good you've been to me, and sing songs of praise to you. I want to tell the world that you are the king above kings and the Lord above Lords: and that there is not another liken unto you. I want to tell them how much you bless me and how good you've been to me, how your grace and your goodness and your mercy are always chasing after me.
I want to tell them how many times you've given me more than I can contain and so much more than I deserve. I can't help it, God: I've got to give you praise. Because if I don't say something, I'm just going to be tore up inside. I need to tell somebody, 'you've been good to me' today. You've been blessing me. You've been keeping me. You've been protecting me. You've been providing for me. You've been healing me. You've been fighting for me. You've forgiven me. You poured out your blessings upon me. I've got to praise you! I've got to honor you! I've got to glorify you! I want to praise you! I want to lift my hands and magnify your holy name"! Child of God, if he's been good to you, if he's poured out his blessings upon you, if he's been of favor and a merciful God, then I want you to stand to your feet, and lift your hands, and open your mouth, and just begin to magnify his name.
Heavenly Father, invade this sanctuary. Come and be enthroned upon the praises of your people. Come into this house and fill our hearts with a passion for praise. Come move mountains of impossibility. Come defeat enemies that are fighting against us. Come break chains of bondage. Come tear the walls off of prison cells. Come reunite broken hearts and mend ruined lives, because these are the kinds of things that only you can do. Come and do it, in Jesus' name, as we lift our hands and we raise our voice, and we give you praise: for you are great and greatly to be praised.
Child of God, right where you are, I want you to open your mouth and magnify his name, because praise and worship changes things. It changes things. We give you honor. We give you glory. We give you worship. We give you praise. We magnify your holy name.