Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 15
If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times in the past 45 years in the ordained ministry, and I've heard it in a variety of ways, but the problem is the same, why don't I seem to be able to have victory in my life? Why I don't seem to be able to live the Christian life, in joy and victorious, and in a sense of achievement or accomplishment for the Lord? I can tell you why. The bottom line is they all have one thing in common, and that is a faulty view of worship. A faulty view of worship. What people call worship these days has no resemblance of biblical teaching, of biblical worship at all. The question is what is worship? And why people are so confused about it?
I'm going to tell you why, the word from the Latin origin. When we're getting into the English language, the Hebrew is different, but it's the same meaning. But the Latin word, the original word is worthship, that's where it comes from. Worthship. So the question is, what is God worth to you? What is God worth to me? At the heart of worship, is not what we can get out of it, but what we can give to that. That is really the bottom line, and that's where the confusion comes from. Worship is not getting, but it is giving. And that is why we have these problems, these folks running around trying to find a victory in their life, trying to find contentment in their life, they're trying to find spiritual growth in their life and they can't find it.
Listen to what Paul said in Philippians 3:3, "Those who worship in the Spirit of God, glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh". Jesus said, when he's talking to the Samaritan woman, "Those who worship my Father, worship him in spirit and truth for such people the Father seeks to be his worshippers". True worship is not what I can get out of God, but showing what God is worth to me. True worship is multifaceted. Of course, praise is part of it, and prayer is part of it, proclamation is part of it. Sacrificial giving is part of it. In Ephesians, he said, "In Christ Jesus, we have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing". How many? "In Christ Jesus, we already have all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge". How many? "In Christ Jesus, we have been made complete".
The joy and the contentment, in the Christian life is not striving to get more out of God, and get, get, get. Instead, give more of ourselves to God. Can I get an amen? Because God already gave you everything that you have, everything. What we need to do is appropriate what he already has given us, and you need to know how to do that. In fact, Romans 12 tells us how to do that. Here in Romans chapter 12, verses 1 to 8, Paul gives us the only way for true joy, for contentment, for satisfaction, for victory in the Christian life. Please listen to me, worship is not getting high on some emotional high and then it wears off, and then you're back in the dumps in worse condition.
Verse 1, "Therefore I urge you, in the view of the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual worship". Remember the principle of therefore? In fact, here it tells us what it is for. The mercies of God. Therefore, in view of the mercies of God, in view of what you saw in the last message from Romans chapter 11, particularly verse 33, "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God". The incredible mercy of God. Now that he had shown mercy, both to Jews and gentiles to believe in Jesus, those branches that already grafted in, the gentiles, or the branches were natural, the Jews, now that he's shown mercy to all. And because of that mercy, therefore, it is your response, it's my response to this unbelievable, indescribable, unfathomable mercy of the grace of God.
Therefore, this is your expression of gratitude and thanksgiving to the mercy of God. Therefore, this is your secret for contentment and joy and victory and satisfaction in God. What is it? Offering God your spiritual worship. How to offer God my body as a spiritual sacrifice? I could jump on this altar like they do in the Old Testament. It's kind of, "Okay God, I'm on the altar. Send fire from heaven". Now, I hesitated actually saying that because some of you probably said, "Yes, Lord. Send fire, Lord". The Lord forgive you. First of all, when Paul talking about offering our body, he's not talking about the bones and the flesh and the skin and the tissues. He's not talking about this physical body. No, he is referring to everything that we are. Everything that you are.
That's what's he's talking about. In the Old Testament, the sacrifice had to be killed. In the New Testament, the sacrifice has to be living. Oh, it's a lot harder. It is a lot harder to live for Jesus than to die for Jesus. Did you know that? In the Old Testament, the sacrifice cost a portion of one's income. In the New Testament, you must be prepared to sacrifice everything. In the Old Testament, sacrifice had to be without blemish. In the New Testament, the sacrifice has to be complete and a total surrender. In the Old Testament, the sacrifice brought sweet smelling savor to the nostrils of God. In the New Testament, the sacrifice must be pleasing to the Lord.
You say, "Well, I get that from God, yes," but living for God, it's a slow death. Slow death to self, life for Christ in you. Wherever you go, there goes a living sacrifice. In the boardroom, there is a living sacrifice. In the factory floor, there is a living sacrifice, in the housework, there is a living sacrifice. In parenting, this is a living sacrifice. In serving, in giving, I'm a living sacrifice everywhere I go. Beloved, the motive of giving of self in spiritual worship must always be generated out of response to God's mercy. Always. The object of giving is pleasing the Lord. Pleasing the Lord. Before I utter a word out of my mouth, I'll ask, "Are these words going to be pleasing to the Lord"? Are you with me?
Before I speak ill of someone or express ingratitude towards someone, I ask, is that going to be pleasing to the Lord. Before I allow bitterness to seep into my heart, and begin to feel sorry for myself in selfishness, I ask is this really pleasing to the Lord. Before I allow my feet to take me to places where I should not and must never, never, never go, I ask myself, is this living sacrifice, is this pleasing to the Lord? That is what it's all about. Beloved, surrender is a total job. When God tested Abraham and he said to him, "Give me Isaac," he basically was saying to him, "Give me everything you have," because Isaac, the son of promise, meant everything to Abraham. You know what Abraham, according to Hebrews now that we know it, Abraham said, "Well man, we're going to get to see some miracles. God is going to raise my dead son. Can't wait to see how God is going to work this one".
Why did God ask Abraham to do that? God doesn't need Isaac. He gave him Isaac. He wanted to see if Abraham's affection moved away from the Lord and placed it on the blessing. He wanted to witness his obedience and surrender. He wanted Abraham to say, "Lord, everything I have comes from you. It's yours". God doesn't want it. He wants you to be willing to surrender it. When David could not build the temple, it's the longing of his heart to build the temple to the Lord. He takes his entire net worth, puts it aside, said, "Take it all. Use it". "Therefore I urge you, brethren, in the view of the mercy of God, to offer yourselves totally, completely as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual worship".
Then immediately, the Apostle Paul goes to speak about the spiritual gifts, which every believer has at least one. Some of you have more than one. Verse 2, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but rather be transformed by the renewing of your mind". And then, and here I'm adding, this is the Youssef part, and only then. And then will you be able to discern the will of God. My goodness, we live in a culture; oh, it grieves me, no end. We just conformity mentality. It's alive and well, I mean, we see it all over, all over the place. Conformity. Anybody tries to be different, immediately jump on him or her.
Beloved, listen to me, standing against the current of culture, is a rarity these days. If there is a hit pastor, you know what I'm talking about? If a hit pastor gets up and he said, "God is too big. There are many ways to God other than through Jesus," thousands of young pastors follow suit and start preaching this stuff. Tragedy, tragedy, tragedy. Another hit preacher says, "We don't need to judge sin. We can baptize it into the church". Thousands of young pastors, within weeks preaching the same falsehood. Make no mistake about it, Satan understands this powerful desire of conformity. He understands it very, very well, and he uses it to the hilt. He uses it to the hilt. Why? Because Satan's goal is to destroy the church of Jesus Christ.
Is this news to you? No. If you get one message from verse 2, it's just one thing, I want it to be this, dare to stand alone. Dare to be different from the masses, dare to stand firm when everybody else is caving in. Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to be Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego. Dare to say no when everybody else is saying yes. Dare to say, "No, that is not biblical". Dare to testify. Dare to stand courageously against the unbiblical church. Even if you walk out of that church, walk out. Why? Because the transforming of your mind produces transforming of your will. And the transforming of your will is going to reveal the will of God to you. And you and the will of God will be one, in and out, and the same mind, the same mind as Christ Jesus.
The word transform here that is used, the original word, is the word from which we get metamorphosis where something is transformed from one form into another. It's like a change of the tadpole into a frog or a caterpillar into a butterfly. Let me tell you, a lot of caterpillars in this church need to become butterflies. You better start flying, all right? Okay, I know. Get out of your cocoon. Get out of your cocoon and start flying. In fact, and the same word is used here. It's the same word used in the gospels to describe what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration. You remember when Jesus took Peter and John and James and went up to the Mount of Transfiguration?
And that's what the word means, transformational or transformation. The Lord's inward essence was allowed to shine through his body, and he said, "His face radiated". That's what it means. He was transformed. Look with me at verses 3 to 8. I know I have long introductions, but I get to the sermon. I often do. Here the Apostle Paul gives us practical ways by which we can offer ourselves totally as a sacrifice to the Lord. Please listen to me, we cannot offer ourselves totally to the Lord when we're sitting on our blessed assurance and doing nothing. Hello? Why? Because actively serving God brings honor to God. And here's the sticky wicket, as they say in England, none of us are exempted. None of us exempted. Why? Because none of us have been exempted from receiving the Holy Spirit with all the gifts that he brought to us.
Beloved, listen to me, study after study after study, have shown that the most genius people, the most intellectual, they only use 11% of the brain capacity. Did you know that? About 90% just go unused, even the brightest. I have a hunch that we have a similar percentages in the church. If you stretch it, it may go to 20/80. Twenty percent doing all the work, giving all the good money and giving, doing all the things serving, serving, serving. Eighty percent: spectators, they're watching. Here is the flow of true worship, it goes from self-denial in spiritual worship to self-surrender to the will of God.
And it goes from self-surrender to selfless serving in the work of God. No exemption. Look at verse 3, no exemption. "Through the grace given to me I say to everyone," you notice that? Every one of you. No exemption. There are two extremes. Both are erroneous. Both are destructive to the church of Jesus Christ. Listen to me very carefully please, both are designed to make the church of Jesus Christ ineffective. One extreme is the person that who thinks much highly of himself or herself than they ought, and they sort of look down their noses at the others.
"Yeah, let them work. They're the workers. I'm the prince of the church. I'm the princess of the church. I don't work". Look down their noses, they think that serving is beneath them. That's a bad extreme. The other bad extreme, equally bad, is the self-deprecating. The self-deprecating person, "Well, I'm just not worthy. I have nothing to offer. I can't really do anything". Both are false perceptions and both designed to paralyze the church of Jesus Christ. Are you with me?
So what's the answer? The answer to those extremes given to us right here in the Scripture, verse 3, Paul says, the first answer, "Have an accurate self-perception". In verses 4 and 5, he said, "Have an adequate perception of others". And thirdly, in verses 6 to 8, he says, "Have an active service mentality. Have an active service mentality". Accurate self-perception means that I'm neither inflated or deflated. I'm realistic about myself. How do I have an accurate perception of myself? By not keeping my eyes on somebody who's better than me or focusing my eyes on somebody who's worse off than me. Why? Because you will always find somebody who's better than you. You will always find somebody who's in worse shape than you.
If you focus on somebody whom you perceive better than you or has different gifts than you, you will experience false discouragement. You will, I promise you. If you keep your eyes on somebody whom you perceive worse off than you are, or have different gifts than you are, you will have an inflated self-importance. Both extremes are deadly. Both of these are wrong measurements. For accurate measurements of self is the relationship with Jesus Christ. It's keeping your eyes on Jesus. When your eyes only on Jesus, you will have a sober judgment, meaning accurate perception, why? Because God does not give us all the same measures of faith. He gives some measures of faith to you, and different from you, and you, and you, and me.
And when you operate faithfully on the measure of faith that he's giving you, you will not be discouraged. You will not be discouraged. You will not be frustrated. You're not going to feel defeated. Can I get an amen? Transforming of the mind will help you to have an accurate perception of yourself. Secondly, transforming of the mind is going to allow you to have an adequate perception of others, verses 4 and 5. Imagine for a moment you're flying on a plane, and all of a sudden, the announcement comes and says, "We have made a decision that we're going to switch roles. The pilots are going to serve the food and the flight attendants, and the flight attendants are going to pilot the plane".
Now, I want you to imagine what a lousy service that would be. Don't worry about the plane crashing. Or imagine the horror of me trying to sing a solo every Sunday. I know you will clear this place out before five minutes into the service. No. Paul said, "Don't envy the gifts of others. Don't despise your own gift. Don't sit and wish you've had a different gift. Don't waste your life moping and moaning and complaining that your gift is not important, your gift is not significant".
The God who knew you before the foundation of the earth, he knew you to give you the gift that he knows is perfect for you, and not for somebody else, just for you. Get on with worshipping God, using your energy, and exercising of the gift. Beloved, this is how seriously the Bible takes the discovering and the using of his spiritual gifts. "Our transforming mind gives us accurate self-perception. Our transformed mind will give us adequate perception of others". Finally, thirdly, 6 to 8, "Our transformed mind will give us an active serving mentality".
Beloved, the Scripture tells us that when we become born again, the Holy Spirit comes in to dwell in us, but he doesn't come empty handed. Holy Spirit is very generous. He always comes carrying gifts, at least one gift. For most of us, it's more than one. That's your spiritual birthday gift. The Holy Spirit brings it to you, hands it to you. The saddest part to me is the person who never ever opened the gift to know what it is. The next saddest person to me is the person who opens the gift and says, "Ooh, I don't like that". Put it on the shelf. Operate without it. Meanwhile, the body of Christ is languishing. The body of Christ is suffering because of their absence. Those who say, "I get nothing out of church," to those who says, "Church doesn't do much for me," think about the loss that others are experience because of your absence. Think about that, and think about it for a long time.