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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - The Person Whom God Praises

Michael Youssef - The Person Whom God Praises

Michael Youssef - The Person Whom God Praises

In most churches, among most Christians, you find that their understanding of worship is only limited to public worship on Sunday morning or Sunday night or even midweek gathering, but worship is a lifestyle. Worship is the totality of our being and involves the totality of our being. That worship involves a sacrifice. Worship is the willingness to put everything on the line for the one we worship. Here is how Paul put it in Romans chapter 12, verse 1. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship".

When Abraham and Isaac went up, and Abraham the only one who knew he's gonna offer Isaac, and he did not know what's gonna happen, and he said to the servants, he said, "The boy and I are gonna go up to worship," offering his beloved son. But he said, "We're going up to worship, and we'll come back again". See, the act of worship. Why? Because every aspect of life for the believer ought to be an act of worship. It ought to be the expression of the worth of God, but at the very heart of true biblical worship there is one thing that God looks for in the heart of the worshiper, and that's humility. It's humility. A humble heart. That's what God is looking for. He's looking for a humble heart.

You cannot offer your body, as Paul tells us in Romans 12, without offering your mind, without offering your heart, without offering your hands and the resources in your hands. This is the totality of our being again, but when you talk about true humility, you cannot go very far than John the Baptist. Jesus, the Godman who is the embodiment of humility, something that we try to emulate which we can never match this side of heaven, Jesus is the one who sat on the realm of the universe in the splendor and the glory of heaven, and yet he laid that splendor and the glory, as Paul said in Philippians. He said he did not grab into the power and the splendor and glory. It's not something to be grasped, but he surrendered it. He gave it up so that he might come to redeem us.

That Jesus, who is the ultimate in humility, that same Jesus said in Matthew 11:11, "I tell you the truth: among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist". But this subjunctive, this little word, three letters that comes in the word "yet," can you say it with me? That is a very important bridge to the rest of the verse. "Yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist". Did you get that? When he was preaching, a throng of city slickers who have traveled long distances to come into the wilderness to hear this guy preach, and you see it in Matthew chapter 3, verse 7. Just flip a couple of pages.

You hear what John said, "Oh, thank you so much for coming. How wonderful of you to come and be in a parking lot that is sheltered from rain, and then you come here into this lovely air-conditioned comfort. Oh, how wonderful of you to sacrifice so much to come and be with us today". No, none of that. Listen to what he said. "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath that is to come? Therefore bring forth the fruit of repentance". I'm telling you this is beyond rough talking, even back then. John the Baptist did not try to make people feel good about themselves. He didn't. He did not try to make them happy so that they can come back and hear him preach. He did not tell them that God loves them, and he loves them, too.

It was a miracle that these people coming in large numbers, throngs of them coming into the wilderness. I mean, this guy did not look good, did not smell good. He did not act good. He did not have any degree of sophistication. All of that would make you wanna go back to Matthew 11:11. I mean, did really Jesus mean to say that this guy was greater than Noah and Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob, and Joseph and Moses, and Elijah and Elisha, and King David? Is this guy, John the Baptist, greater than all of the kings and the emperors and the philosophers and the military leaders of the world? Did Jesus really mean to say that? I mean, I would have said, "Lord, please, this can't be right".

When God said that he looks upon the heart and we look on the outside and the outward appearance, we need to take what God said very seriously. We need to stop taken in by outward appearance and by just words. By the way, as an aside, I believe with all my heart, personally, that it's a sin against God when we only judge people on the outward appearance, when we only go for the half-truth, and we only exercise very shallow judgment, when we do not have sober judgment, when we deal with the surface issues and not the depth of it. But there's more.

John the Baptist's father, as you remember the story, Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. They prayed for years to have children, couldn't have children, but in their old age the angel came, and he announced that they will have, a miracle is gonna happen. His father, Zechariah, was a priest in the temple, but there were a whole lot of priests. He wasn't anything special. Elizabeth, from the human point of view was the cousin of the Virgin Mary. His mother, Elizabeth, she was a descendant of Aaron. She was a Levite, but there were lots of descendants of the Levites. They were dime a dozen, so from the human point of view there is no family background that he can boast about. He did not have a string of degrees to put after his name. He did not have a long list of accomplishments and successes.

For goodness sakes' never been to cemetery... I mean, seminary. He had no theological training. Certainly, and no social graces. In Luke chapter 1, verse 15, the angel said of his birth, when the angel announced his birth, I already told you about this. "He will be great". Where? In Washington, D.C. circles? In the political circles? In the media circles? In society circles? No, he will be great in the sight of who? God. And, beloved, listen to me. That's all that matters. The greatness of John the Baptist worship is his absolute humility in the sight of God. He was not only filled with the Holy Spirit, he was totally controlled by the Holy Spirit. Even in his mother's womb, the Bible said, he was filled of the Holy Spirit.

As long as you want to be in control of your life, the Holy Spirit is gonna stand aside. He's not gonna leave you. You're not gonna lose your salvation. The Bible said that we can grieve him and we can quench him. He will stand aside. He'll say, "Be my guest. You want total control? Fine". True worship involves total surrender. True worship is giving up control to whom you worship. True worship says with John the Baptist. That he must increase and keep on getting increasing, and I must decrease and keep on getting decreased. What made John the Baptist to be a true and a genuine worshiper of the Lord? It was none of the things that we often think about. None of the things that we strive for.

I know we seek people's approval, and we seek people's acceptance, and we seek people's good impression of us. I know that we seek people's praise of us. We seek people's admiration of us. Hear me out, please. This is important. As long as these are the most important things in our lives, we cannot be true, genuine worshipers of God. As long as you want people to appreciate your worth, you will have a hard time appreciating the true worth of the Lord whom you worship. Had Jesus stopped by the word, "John the Baptist" without that subjunctive "yet," had he stopped there and that was the end of the verse, I think just about all of us, including your pastor, all of us would have been tempted to say, "Well, good for John the Baptist," right? He continued, "Yet I say to you, yet he who's least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist".

Question: who do you think is the least in the kingdom of heaven? Children, the very poor, the infirmed. As a matter of fact, in the Bible there are many times when Jesus talks about children as the least, talking about kids when he says, "the least". Now, kids, I want you to know what Jesus thinks of you. Jesus thinks that you can be greater than John the Baptist. Do you know why? John the Baptist saw Jesus face to face. He was his cousin. Ah, you never saw Jesus with your own eyes, but then when you are a true worshiper of Jesus, when you are a true lover of Jesus, when you are a true witness for Jesus, when your heart is tender toward Jesus, in Jesus's eyes you are greater than John the Baptist.

Somebody will say, "Wait a minute, Michael. Wait. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. How can I be greater than John the Baptist"? Well, there are two things. If you're taking notes, write them down. They're very important. Imprint them on the cortex of your brain if you don't have a pen or pencil or paper, okay? Two things, very simple, and they're very simple. Having clarity in your life's mission and, secondly, having purity in your motives. Did you get those? What do I mean by clarity of mission in life? The Apostle Paul said, "There is one thing I do".

Most of us, with the age of Instagram and texting and all those things we do, we say, "The 20,000 things I dabble in". He said, "One thing I do," and I can tell you as God my witness I have tried with every ounce of my being in the last so many years, I have sought with all my heart to follow the Apostle Paul's motto. Not very successful, not all the time. I confess that publicly, but I always, always try to remind myself and my colleagues that we need to major on the majors, and we need to minor on the minors. That we don't need to be distracted by extraneous things. John the Baptist's mission in life was so clear. You cannot miss it. You cannot miss it. He says, "He must increase, and I must decrease". It's that simple. That's his mission, not mission statement, but a mission that he practiced every single day.

Listen, I know there are many Christians in churches, they get fouled up with each other over theological nuances. Some get all fouled up over taste of music. Other people debate which is the right governing authority of the church, but if Jesus is not increasing and we are decreasing, we have not yet learned to be true worshipers. Clarity in his life's mission. The second thing is purity of motives. I know that none of us can have pure motives all the time. I know that. I know that, and you know that. There are times, and let me confess to the glory of God and my own shame. There are times when I'm in doubt about my motives, there are times when I go to the Lord in examining of my motives, and sometimes my tears communicate with the Lord more than my words, communicating the fact that I want him to purify my motives.

I often cry out to the Lord and say to him, "Lord, please reveal to me if there is some hidden motives that I'm not even aware of in my life, that is not all for your glory. Lord, please either remove the impurities or remove me, for that matter," in my daily prayer. And not just once a day, many times. When I'm in intimate times with the Lord, I'm conscious of the fact that I only serve at his behest, and I talk to the Lord about this all the time. "Lord, when you're through with me don't just let me know, let everybody knows," and so I hold everything with open hands, including this ministry. I literally hold it with hands wide open.

Many years ago, the Lord began to teach me the importance of examining my motives. By the same token he began to teach me never to judge another person's motive, never. I might judge their action, fruit, whatever, but not motive. John the Baptist probably had the purest motives of anyone in the Scripture. I know the Apostle Paul had pure motives, and who would be beaten up and suffer as much as he did if he didn't have a pure motive? And even one time said there are some people who even preach the gospel out of impure motives. He said leave them alone. God will take care of that.

You say, "How do you know, Michael, that John the Baptist really had pure motives"? That's a good question. I'm so glad you asked it because I want you to really lend me your ears, your minds, and your eyes and just focus with me for a minute, 'cause I'm gonna show you. I'm gonna show you the incredible temptation that this man was facing. What's the last book in the Old Testament? Malachi. Did you all get that? Malachi. It's the last Word that came from the Lord, the last prophet that had spoken, the last prophetic Word that the Lord has spoken to his people. And did you know that for 400 years after Malachi God was silent? He was. There was no Word from the Lord. There was no prophetic Word from the Lord. There was no message to Israel. There was nothing.

God was silent, but then, after 400 years God began to speak again through whom? John the Baptist, and he proclaimed the coming Jesus, this rough-looking, rough-eating, rough-speaking, rough-living guy, to whom people came in large number, probably thousands. Why were they doing this? Well, they were hungry for the truth. They were thirsty for the truth. They were tired of the namby-pamby preachers who were preaching bunch of nothings and now you can understand. You can understand that the number-one temptation, number-one temptation for John the Baptist would have been, "I could occupy the center stage. This must be all about me. Look at all these people. They couldn't be all wrong".

John the Baptist could have received all that attention himself. All of this could have gotten to his head. All of this could have gotten to him and accept all of that popularity. This could have played tricks on his head and his mind, and he said, "Man, I must be the guy. I know I'm here to announce, but I must be the one". Because his motives were pure and because he was a genuine, true worshiper of the Lord Jesus, he pointed to Jesus. "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". He kept on saying to them, "He is the one, not me. It's all about him and not me. It is not my message, even. It is the subject of my message. I'm only preparing the way. I'm only baptizing with water, but when he comes, he's gonna baptize with the Holy Spirit". Amen.

The biggest temptations for believers in the 21st century is for us to occupy the center stage, is that we seek acceptance at any price. We want the world to think the best of us and, beloved, that is why and this is the number one reason why many people do not share Christ with their neighbors and friends. Clarity of mission for life. Purity of motive.

Now, you keep those two things at the forefront of your mind, you keep those things at the forefront of your life, you keep that at the forefront of your witnessing, and I promise you, you will be blessed, and you will be great in the eyes of God. You'll be a true worshiper of the living God. I can promise you that the words of Jesus will ring in your ear. Not because he is seeking greatness, but the truth is the truth. That you're greater than John the Baptist, regardless of your age.

Don't ever forget that God promised, "I honor those who honor me". Jesus said, "Those who are ashamed of me, I'll be ashamed of them before my Father in heaven". I pray that this will never be said of me. I pray that this will never be said of you. If you're at the sound of my voice, will you repeat after me, please, if it is your desire?

Lord Jesus, I want you to increase, and I want to decrease. Please help me that I may have clarity of mission and purity of motive. In Jesus's name. Amen.

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