Support this ministry by using the companies and products you see on this blog

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Palm Sunday Sermon March 25, 2018 - Jesus Needs You

This is the manuscript of a sermon preached on Palm Sunday March 25, 2018 at Church of Divine Guidance Los Angeles, CA 

Mark 11:2-3 (NKJV) He said to them, "Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. And if anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' say, 'The Lord has need of it,' and immediately he will send it here." - From Mark 11:2-3

What will you do when Jesus says that He needs you? Will you surrender yourself like this man surrendered his donkey?

In the Cantata His Only Begotten Son there is a scene where Jesus is coming into Jerusalem for the Passover feast. Many of the people that lived in Jerusalem and the thousands that have come for the feast are anticipating His arrival because they believe that He is the Messiah that God promised He would send to deliver His people, the Jews, from oppression and bondage.  In the scene, when the people see Him they get very excited and shout Hosanna.  Their song includes the phrase that tyrants will bow at His feet, blessing and hope to everyone He meets.    That scene is based on Mark's account of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem to celebrate His last Passover on earth.  Today we call that Jesus’ Triumphal Entry.  That was the way a conquering  king would enter a city or nation after defeating them.

Let's go to

Mark 11:1-11 (NKJV)1  Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples;2  and He said to them, "Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it.3  And if anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' say, 'The Lord has need of it,' (I want to remember that phrase, the Lord has need of it)   and immediately he will send it here."4  So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it.5  But some of those who stood there said to them, "What are you doing, loosing the colt?"6  And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. So they let them go.7  Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it.8  And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road.9  Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'10  Blessed is the kingdom of our father David That comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"11  And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Now let's set the scene.  According to scholars and historians, Jerusalem had a population of about 20,000 to 30,000 people. But at Passover the celebration of Israel's release from slavery in Egypt  the city’s population swelled by perhaps another 150,000.1 Imagine every room filled, with campsites popping up on every available hillside, inhabited by Jewish people who had traveled from throughout the world.
Can you imagine LA which we think is overcrowded now swelling to six times its normal size? This would happen every year during the Passover in Jerusalem.
But there was something unique about this Passover. Many believed that, just as they had been delivered from Egyptian slavery, another day of deliverance was at hand—the deliverance from Roman oppression.

The people longed for a deliverer. They longed for the Old Testament promise of a Messiah to be fulfilled. Now, that day had come. Jesus of Nazareth had filled Israel with the Word of God and the miracles of God. His message was clear and filled with hope: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near", and He confirmed by His miracles.

This Passover even started differently. Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, just as one of the prophets Zechariah said. 

Zechariah 9:9 (NKJV)9  "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.

This was, in the minds of those shouting Hosanna, the beginning of the end of Roman oppression.  Unfortunately, the celebration didn’t last. The crowds were looking for a Messiah who would rescue them politically and free them nationally, but Jesus had come to save them spiritually.  For Jesus it was first things first, and that was the need for spiritual freedom, not political, cultural, or national salvation.

So this Triumphal Entry was a paradox. On one hand, it was a time of praise and anticipation. On the other hand, it was a time of disappointment when Jesus failed to be the Messiah they wanted—one who would take on the Roman government. Within a week the crowds who were crying out “Hosanna!” when Jesus entered Jerusalem, were crying out “Crucify Him!”, before the end of the week.

Let’s look at everything that happened that week. 


On that Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem and ended the day with a visit to the temple.

Mark 11:11 (NKJV)  And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve. 

On Monday, on His way back to the temple, Jesus cursed a fig tree because it didn’t have any figs, that’s in Mark 11:12-14.  When He went back to the temple and saw what was going on He cleaned it out. 

Mark 11:15-19 (NKJV)15  So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.16  And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple.17  Then He taught, saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it a 'den of thieves.' "18  And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching.19  When evening had come, He went out of the city.

Tuesday was a busy day.

On His way back to the temple, on Tuesday, He used the fig tree that He had cursed on Monday to talk to the disciples about faith, verses 20-25.

Because He raised such a ruckus on Monday the Chief Priests, the teachers, and the elders, in other words the religious leaders, confronted Jesus challenging His authority, to order folk out of the temple and,  stop them from doing business 27-33.

He answered them with a parable about a man who had rented a vineyard he owned to some farmers who refused to pay the rent.  These farmers eventually killed His son when he sent him to collect the rent.  He was talking about the scribes and Pharisees.  He said that actually they were hypocrites and phonies. 

Mark 12:38-40 (NKJV)38  Then He said to them in His teaching, "Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces,39  the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts,40  who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation."

He even questioned their giving.

Mark 12:41-44 (NKJV)41  Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much.42  Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans.43  So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;44  for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood."

On the way back to Bethany Jesus told his disciples that the temple that they so dearly loved would be destroyed.  When they asked Him about it He gave them a discourse on what to look for in the last days. That's chapter 13.

Mark 13:32-37 (NKJV)32  "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.33  Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.34  It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch.35  Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming--in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning--36  lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping.37  And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"

Then on Wednesday the chief Priests were trying to figure out how to get rid of Jesus

Mark 14:1-2 (NKJV)1  After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death.2  But they said, "Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar of the people."

While He was at Simon the Leper’s house a woman came in and poured an expensive jar of perfume on his head, which upset a lot of folk,

Mark 14:3-4 (NKJV)3  And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.4  But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, "Why was this fragrant oil wasted?

 But Jesus said she was preparing for His burial. 

Mark 14:8-9 (NKJV)8  She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.9  Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her."

Then Judas went and made the deal to betray Him.

Mark 14:10-11 (NKJV)10  Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them.11  And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. So he sought how he might conveniently betray Him.

On Thursday there was the Last Supper, Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane,  Judas’  betrayal, the arrest and, the trial before the Jewish authorities, and. Peter’s denial Mark 14:12-72.

On Friday, Good Friday, there was the  trial before Pilate, the crucifixion, and burial.  All of that is in Mark 15.

The only thing that happened on Saturday, since it was the Sabbath was the tomb being guarded by the Roman soldiers.

Then on Sunday The Resurrection!  That’s in Mark chapter 16.

That’s a pretty full week that started with a big celebration and ended with a body in a tomb.  Of course we know about the glory of the resurrection with took place on Sunday but I want to go back to that first Sunday.  The Sunday of the Triumphal Entry.

That Sunday the people lined the street by the thousands, waving palm branches in praise and celebration, declaring, "Hosanna!" The word Hosanna is a cry for help and deliverance, meaning "Save now!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" they proclaimed as they hailed Him their Messiah.

That phrase "He who comes" is a phrase they used for the Messiah and it comes from Psalm 118:26

Psalm 118:26 (NKJV)26  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.

The people would sing this psalm at the Passover, and other great celebrations. It is a psalm of conquest and victory.  Remember they thought that Jesus was going to overthrow Rome as the warrior Messiah. 

Among the celebration that day was the man who gave his donkey for Jesus to ride. Jesus sent two disciples into town with instructions that they would see a donkey tied up at a certain home. They were to take it and bring it to Him. If anyone asked them what they were doing, they were to reply, "The Lord needs it”. 

What will you do when Jesus says that He needs you?  

Will you surrender yourself like this man surrendered his donkey?

Listen to what he told people who wanted to become His disciples.

Luke 9:23-26 (NKJV)23  Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.24  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.25  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?

Paul said it a little differently.

Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

You may be saying to yourself, "I have so little to offer Him." Well God has been taking our little and doing a lot with it since the beginning of time.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)20  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

That power is the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (NKJV)26  For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.27  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;28  and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,29  that no flesh should glory in His presence.D."

God needs you. That really sounds  presumptuous doesn't it? And if you said about yourself it would be very arrogant.   Let’s change that statement to God wants and needs you.  Doesn’t sound so bad now does it?

2 Corinthians 4:7 (HCSB)7  Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.

This scripture tells us that God's power depends on us, these jars of clay full of imperfections.  Amazing isn’t it?

God really doesn’t need us but by His grace He has chosen to use us.

He has always worked that way. From Adam and Eve, to Noah, to Abraham, to the disciples, to Paul, and to you and me. 

Think about it! The Creator of the universe wants, needs, and uses us.   He is all-powerful and doesn’t need to depend on any creature yet, He has chosen mankind to carry out His plans.  If He didn’t need us He could have taken us to be with Him as soon as He saved us.   He wants, needs and uses us to show the way of salvation and eternal life with Him through His Son Jesus.   We call this the “Great Commission”

Matthew 28:18-20 (HCSB)18  Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20  teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Apostle Paul calls it our “ministry of reconciliation”.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (HCSB)18  Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:19  That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.20  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”

God Wanted and Needed Man for Specific Assignments

He needed man to take care of His creation.

Genesis 1:26 (HCSB)  Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

He needed a man to speak against  against the godlessness of His people.

One time He said He needed a man then didn't find anybody.

Ezekiel 22:30 (HCSB)  I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one.

Another time He needed a man to warn His people and this He found one. 

Isaiah 6:8 (HCSB) Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Who should I send? Who will go for Us? I said: Here I am. Send me.

Jesus Wanted and Needed Men 

Matthew 10:2-4 (HCSB)2  These are the names of the 12 apostles: First, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;3  Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;4  Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.

Jesus told His disciples to ask for help from other men because there was a need for more men to help harvest the lost thus accomplishing the “Great Commission”..

Matthew 9:36-38 (HCSB)36  When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.37  Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few.38  Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” 

Workers are what God wants and needs.  He doesn't need spectators.  Although He can do it all by Himself He wants us to work with Him. 
When God Needs You He’ll Call You

Just as Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, John, and His other apostles, He will call you when He needs you.  When He calls you don’t hesitate because you don’t think you you’re qualified because He will equip you with whatever you need in order to accomplish what He needs you to do.
2 Corinthians 3:4-6 (HCSB) 4  We have this kind of confidence toward God through Christ.5  ⌊It is⌋ not that we are competent in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our competence is from God.6  He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit produces life.
When He calls you He’ll equip you first with the Holy Spirit;

Ephesians 1:13(HCSB) When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

Then with Spiritual Gifts;

Ephesians 4:7 (HCSB) Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift.
What an amazing thing that the Lord would need anything from us. God is self-sufficient. His name, Jehovah, means "God is self-existent" He doesn't technically need anything. He is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord our provider. Yet, He says to us, "I need you." The Lord needs your resources, talents, abilities and availability. Christ calls us into partnership with Himself in the building of His kingdom. God works in partnership with His people. The Holy Spirit is saying to you today, "The Lord needs it."
What talent, resource, financial strength, possession, or leadership gift is the Holy Spirit telling you to give to God in dedicated service? Once you give yourself totally to Christ, you will have no hesitancy giving up anything you possess for the kingdom of God.
2 Timothy 1:9 (TLB) “It is he who saved us and chose us for his holy work not because we deserved it but because that was his plan long before the world began — to show his love and kindness to us through Christ”

God says you’re necessary in the church.  That’s why He gives us spiritual gifts. 

Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

You’re an essential part of his family.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 NIV Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Look at it this way: If I don’t use my gifts, you get cheated. If you don’t use your gifts, I get cheated. And either way, everybody else in the Body of Christ gets cheated.

We’re all important! We’re all needed to do our part as we fit together.

You may be small in your own eyes, but God needs you!
Yours is a mission you alone can fill,
Whether it be to build or teach or till;
Your goal may still be hidden from your view,
But somewhere God has urgent need of you. —Thayer

I Surrender All

All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live
All to Jesus I surrender
Humbly at His feet I bow
Worldly pleasures all forsaken
Take me, Jesus, take me now,
I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all

All to Jesus I surrender
Make me Savior wholly thine
May Thy Holy Spirit fill me
May I know Thy power divine
I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all
I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all

God is looking for ordinary people for extraordinary work.  He’s looking for you, Jesus needs you!

Sermon Audio

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Start The Year Right, Start It With Praise

There’s a superstition that what you do on New Year’s Day you will do for the rest of the year. Well it’s not New Year’s Day but this is just the second Sunday in 2018 so it’ not too late. If that superstition is right if we started praising God right now we will be praising Him all year.

This is the manuscript of a sermon preached at Christ Church in Los Angeles on Sunday January 14, 2018. 

There’s a superstition that what you do on New Year’s Day you will do for the rest of the year. Well it’s not New Year’s Day but this is just the second Sunday in 2018 so it’ not too late. If that superstition is right if we started praising God right now we will be praising Him all year.

There's a Doxology we all know and have probably many times before:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host:
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

That’s very nice and we sing very melodically and sweet. Now let me read the first two verses of Psalm 95 from the Message Bible:

Psalm 95:1-2 The Message (MSG) Come, let’s shout praises to God, raise the roof for the Rock who saved us! Let’s march into his presence singing praises, lifting the rafters with our hymns!

Praising God - The First Thing!

Praising God is the best thing to do before we do anything else. Think about the good times. What do you usually do during these times? You praise God. Now think about those difficult times in your life when you don't know what to do? How about Praising God then?

Praising God at those times doesn’t minimize or deny the difficulties but it changes our focus from the difficulties to God and who He is. He never changes. He promised never to leave us, so we can count on His presence, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

What exactly is praise?

Here’s a good definition of praise:

  • to express warm approval or admiration 
  • the expression of approval or admiration for someone or something

A definition of Christian praise is the joyful thanking and adoring of God, the celebration of His goodness and grace.

From the Holman Bible Dictionary

Praise comes from a Latin word meaning “value” or “price.” so to give praise to God is to proclaim His merit or worth.

Many terms are used to express this in the Bible, including “glory,” “blessing,” “thanksgiving,” and “hallelujah,”

God is the Object of our Praise

It's not just human beings who praise God praise come from His entire creation starting with the angels;

Revelation 5:11-13 (NKJV)11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,12 saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"

The Bible tells us that all things praise God;

Psalm 19:1 (NKJV)1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.,

Psalm 148:10-13 (NKJV)10 Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and flying fowl;11 Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth;12 Both young men and maidens; Old men and children.13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven.

Isaiah 55:12 (NKJV)12 "For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Luke 19:40 (NKJV)40 But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."

Man the crowning jewel of creation is to praise Him;

While the Bible tell us about the angels, the animals, the mountains, and the rocks, it is primarily concerned with the praises offered to God by us humans.

Psalm 150:1-6 (NKJV)1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament!2 Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!3 Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp!4 Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!5 Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals!6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

Praising God is not a feeling. Praise is conscious admiration and thanks for who God is and what He does. It is an act of the will to praise Him by thoughtfully celebrating His goodness, His greatness, His majesty, His love, His grace, His mighty deeds on our behalf.

Why Should We Praise God ?

Praise gets the focus off us and puts it on God.

We praise God because;

● He’s worthy

2 Samuel 22:4 (NKJV) I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.

Revelation 4:11 (NKJV)11 "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created."

● He’s full of glory

Psalm 138:5 (NKJV)5 Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the glory of the LORD.

  • And He is great
Psalm 145:3 (NKJV)3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable.

● He’s wise and powerful

Daniel 2:20 (NKJV) Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His.

● He’s good

Psalm 107:8 (NKJV)8 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

● He’s merciful and faithful

Psalm 89:1 (NKJV)1 I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.

● He saves

Psalm 18:46 (NKJV)46 The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.

  • He provides
Psalm 136:25 (NKJV) Who gives food to all flesh, For His mercy endures forever.

● He keeps His promises

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

● He pardons sin

Psalm 103:1-3 (NKJV)
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,

To try to list all reasons to praise God is impossible, let’s just say we should praise God because of who He is and what He’s done.

There Will Always Be Problems

Life will never be problem free. Look at what happens in the world during any given week—wars, terrorist attacks, threat of government shutdowns, natural disasters, horrific accidents, violent crime. Individuals are faced with job loss, serious illness, and family tragedies. Problems are a fact of life.

Some deny that problems exists. Others run away from their problems. Still others look for someone else to blame. When people are faced with obstacles or problems, they might respond positively, or they might respond negatively, but they will respond.

The Best Response

There are plenty of ways to respond to problems and handle the stress in your life. You can respond by yelling or by throwing something. You might turn to alcohol or become addicted to social media and the Internet. But let me suggest that you respond with praise and thanksgiving.

Praise changes the spiritual climate and can result in a change of the situation

There is something that is recorded in the Bible the 16th chapter of Acts that proves my point.

Paul and Silas were in Philippi and the were put in jail. If you start reading at verse 16 you can find out why they were jailed but I'm going to start at the place where they started praising God

Acts 16:25-26 (NKJV)2
5 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.

That was a big change after praise.

Job is another example. In the midst of his suffering he said;

Job 1:21 NIV ... “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

Now we have to go to the end of Job to see what happens,

Job 42:12 (NKJV)12 Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys.

He was blessed with double of what he lost.

Ways to Praise God

Like the reasons to praise God are endless so is the list of ways to praise Him. We can praise by singing songs and hymns, clapping our hands, even jumping for joy etc. We can praise God with the use of our physical limbs, our hearts and minds, and our deeds. Although there are many way to praise God, they should all result in acknowledgement of His power, love and grace.

● Praise Him with Sacrifice

Before Jesus the offering of sacrifices was a way to praise God.

Leviticus 14:12 (NKJV)12 And the priest shall take one male lamb and offer it as a trespass offering, and the log of oil, and wave them as a wave offering before the LORD.

Today we offer a sacrifice of praise

Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV)15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

We can also praise God by presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice.

Romans 12:1 (NKJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

● Praise Him with movement (dance)

Remember David praise dancing before the Ark of the Covenant when it was returned to Jerusalem?

2 Samuel 6:14 (NKJV)
Then David danced before the LORD with all his might..

● Praise Him with silence and meditation

Psalm 77:11-12 (NKJV)11 I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.12 I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds.

● Praise Him with testimony

Psalm 66:16 (NKJV)16 Come and hear, all you who fear God, And I will declare what He has done for my soul.

● Praise Him with prayer

Philippians 4:6 (NKJV)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

● Praise Him with music

We know that Psalm 150 talks about praising God with music and with dance.

With all these ways to praise God there is one very important thing to remember.

To Praise God You Have To Really Know Him

There is no shortcut to really getting to know a person. Just as a newly married couple must spend hours, days, and years with each other if they are going to hope to really know each other, the Christian must spend lots of time interacting with God, listening and speaking to him in prayer and reading and meditating in His Word. We praise him because we know him and know what he can and will do. This kind of praise declares who God is, what he has done in the past, and our confidence in him today. When we know what He has done in the past we will then know how he will respond to any situation in the future.

In other words, when we spend time with God in prayer and in His word we learn who He is and what His plans for us are.

Jeremiah 29:11‭ NIV
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Paul put it this way;

1 Corinthians 2:16 NIV for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

In other words, we have some understanding as to how God thinks.

Praise involves knowing who God is in your life and what He has done for you and then expressing it.

We can say things like:

“Lord, I praise you because you are so faithful, and you have never let your people down.

Lord, I praise because you created all things.

Lord, I praise You because You are the one that came into this world in the midst of darkness and despair and defeated sin, death, and hell.

Lord, I praise you because you always meet all my needs.

Lord, I praise you because you have given me everything that I need for life and godliness.

That's Praise with Substance

Praise is more than catchphrases, like “Praise you, Lord! Praise you Lord—hallelujah! Glory to God! Thank you, Jesus!”

Although these words are part of praise, biblical praise is more than that. Biblical praise describes who God is and what he has done. Praise is descriptive, based on truth, and from the heart. Knowledge of God and the way to describe it only comes from spending time in His Word. Our praise should be filled with Scripture and truth.

Praise is to originate in the heart and not become mere outward show.

Jesus talked about that kind of praise.

Matthew 15:8 (NKJV)8 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.

Seeing Life from God’s Perspective

When we praise God, we also make a declaration of who we are in light of him. That means that when we begin to praise him, we move from our limited power to his unlimited power. We trade our limited wisdom for his infinite wisdom and our limited experience for his unlimited experience. We move from our perspective to his perspective. We begin to see life through his eyes.

A Life of Praise

Everyone, well almost everyone, agrees that praise is good. When we’re happy we praise God but, when we’re not happy we don’t praise….. we pray We should do both. We don’t feel any responsibility to praise God when things aren’t going good. We think that praise is just a response to what has happened.

That’s not true.

Praise is not what happens afterwards it’s what happens before.

Remember the Paul and Silas story that I mentioned before about what happened after they praised God?

Your faith in God is actually enhanced with praise. Praise touches everything and every part of your life. A lack of praise affects you in a negative way because praise takes the focus off you and places it on God. Lives that are not constant with praise and thanksgiving are not spiritually healthy.

So in summary;

• Praising God is more than merely using superficial catch phrases.

• When we understand who God is and what he does, our praise vocabulary grows and becomes descriptive.

• We praise God because we have complete confidence in Him because He never changes.

• Biblical praise engages our minds, bodies, and our heart.

• Praising God enables us to see life from his perspective

Praise is not the thing that comes when everything's going right in our lives; it is the driving force of our lives. When we start praising God in the middle of our problems, our problems become so small that we hardly remember them at all, they become an afterthought in the wake of our praise. Always remember,

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)16 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing,18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

There is a song that I really like and it says what I have been talking about today.

Praise Is What I Do
William Murphy

Praise is what I do
When I want to be close to You
I lift my hands in praise
Praise is who I am
I will praise You while I can
I'll bless You at all times

I vow to praise You
Through the good and the bad
I'll praise You
Whether happy or sad
I'll praise You
In all that I go through
Because praise is what I do
'Cause I owe it all to You

Praise is what I do
Even when I'm going through
I've learned to worship You
Though my circumstance doesn't even stand a chance
My praise outweighs the bad

I vow to praise You
Through the good and the bad
I'll praise You
Whether happy or sad
I'll praise You
In all that I go through
Because praise is what I do
'Cause I owe it all to You

Friday, December 1, 2017

How Do We Worship In Spirit And Truth - 2

To worship God in spirit and in truth is to declare that God is worthy of our reverence. We do this in spirit through our heart, the seat of our emotions, based on the truth of who He is, the truth of who we are, the truth of what God does and has done for us, and the truth of what is going on in our lives. 

This is the manuscript of a sermon preached at Church of Divine Guidance (CDG) in Los Angeles, on Sunday November 26, 2017.  This is the second time that I preached this sermon in the last two months and is a continuation of a Tuesday night Bible Study.  After the Bible Study the Senior Pastor of felt that this is a message that should be given to the congregation at a Sunday worship service.

The link to the YouTube video of the sermon is at the end of the manuscript. 

How Do We Worship In Spirit And Truth - 2 - A Sermon

A month or so ago I led a Tuesday night Bible Study on worship and the pastor thought that it was something the entire church should hear. I believe that the Holy Spirit directs him and if he suggested that I preach this sermon it must be something that the Holy Spirit wants you to hear.

Turn in your Bible to John 4:23-24

We all remember the story of the conversation that Jesus had with the woman at a well in Samaria.  If you don’t know the whole story you can read it in John chapter 4.  In the conversation, Jesus revealed that He knew all about this woman. He told her that she had been married 5 times, and that the guy she was living with now with was not her husband. This made her uncomfortable, so she changed the subject from her personal life to religion.

John 4:19‭-‬20 NIV  “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus answers by saying that a day was coming when that it didn’t matter WHERE a person worshiped God.  What mattered was HOW they worshiped Him.

John 4:21‭-‬24 NIV  “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.  Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Note here that Spirit is capitalized which means that God is not a spirit but He’s  The Spirit.

So the question is just how do we worship God in spirit and in truth?   We'll talk about that later but remember the capital “S”.
Let’s first look at a definition for worship; it’s “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity”.  To Worship then, is to show reverence and adoration for (a deity); to honor them with religious rites.
Of course the deity we are talking about is God.
We praise God for what He’s done. But we worship Him for who He is.   In fact praise is a former of worship.

One way to look at worship is to think of it as "worth-ship." When we worship something, we declare that it is worthy.

Psalm 145:3 (NLT)  Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.

The Greek word for "worship" (iproskyneŇć - pros-koo-neh'-o) implies an attitude of reverence. It also includes such physical gestures as kissing the hand or kneeling

Psalm 95:6 (NLT)  Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker,

We worship something when we act as if it has value. By nature, human beings are worshippers.  For instance, we worship our work or our bank accounts, an athlete, an entertainer, a house, a car, a child, a spouse, even  pastors, but we  need to work on focusing our worship on someone who is actually worthy of reverence (like God).

Our attitudes and actions should reflect that we believe the character and conduct of God to be worthy of praise and adoration. At times our worship is expressed through corporate singing, teaching, and tithing. It is also expressed in our daily lives through prayer, Scripture reading, acts of kindness, gratitude, and  our thoughts.

Acknowledge God’s Greatness
When we worship God, we have to understand and acknowledge how mighty He is and how insignificant we are. God is the King of the universe and all creation inevitably bows down before Him.
Isaiah 45:22-23 (NLT)22  Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other.23  I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to me.”
In the New Testament in Philippians 2:9-11 Paul writes;
Philippians 2:9-11 (NLT)9  Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names,10  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Worship is our response to God’s greatness.  It’s us, the created, responding to Him, the Creator.  It’s our spirits being energized in His presence.  

We worship when we come into God’s presence.  Eugene Patterson the creator of “The Message” Bible translation says that worship is “A tribute to God when He comes.”

I preached a sermon earlier this year “What Does It Mean To Delight Yourself In The Lord” in that sermon I referred to a Scripture Zephaniah 3:14-17.

Zephaniah 3:14-17 (NLT) 14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! 15 For the LORD will remove his hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy. And the LORD himself, the King of Israel, will live among you! At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster. 16 On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, “Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! 17 For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

What Zephaniah said was the nation of Israel was to rejoice.   In other words delight themselves in the Lord because He was present with them.

God’s presence makes us who we are. His presence sets us apart from others. And every time we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.
We know that God isn’t confined to a church building or only available at certain times of day. So we don’t have to wait until we come to church or a certain time of day to worship Him.  We don’t even have to wait until we feel spiritual. If we are delighting ourselves in Him we can be confident of His presence all the time.

Psalm 139 says that God's presence can be wherever are.
Psalm 139:1‭-‬10 NIV You have searched me, Lord , and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord , know it completely.  You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,  even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

He said that He would never leave us.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV
The very last thing that Jesus said to His disciples, before He returned to heaven was that He would always be with them.  

Matthew 28:18-20 NIV Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
There is nowhere we can go, no situation, no challenge, no relationship, no conversation where God isn’t present. Because of His great love for us, and His spirit at work in and through us, worship of Him will invade every nook and cranny of our lives.

When we worship God, we embrace His attributes. We see Him as omnipresent (everywhere at once), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), totally good, and totally loving. Worship is not about responsive readings or singing hymns. Worship is surrendering yourself to the power, majesty, and goodness of your Creator, letting God be God — even when you don’t understand what He’s doing or when you disagree with what He’s doing.
Worship is all about responding to who God is and what He’s done for us. It’s about being so into God that we can’t help responding out loud or with our actions. Worshiping God is just about focusing on Him.
God doesn’t require some kind of perfect, complicated worship act. He just wants it to be authentic and genuine.
Let me give you an example of phony worship, and God’s response to it.  
Isaiah 1:11-15 NIV “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord . “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.  When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?  Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.  Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.  When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!

He didn’t say they weren’t bringing their sacrifices and offerings, in fact they were bringing them.  They were observing the festivals and feasts that God directed them to keep but because of their lifestyle He didn’t want to have anything to do with their worship.

Jesus confronted the religious leaders of his day for turning worship into hard work and for appearing to do all the right things but inwardly neglecting to show justice and mercy. He called them “hypocrites” and “blind guides”

Matthew 23:23‭-‬24 NIV “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.  You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Sometimes people walk out of church saying things like, “I didn’t really like the songs today,” or “I just wasn’t really feeling worship today,” or “That singer or the band wasn’t that good. It kinda took me out of it.”  Pastor wasn’t on it today that sermon was flat.  The Spirit wasn’t here today.  

We'll let me let you in on a little secret.

Worship isn’t about you anyway.   It’s about carving out time in our busy lives and responding to who God is and what He’s done for us. It’s about a deep, inner spirit response.  Worship doesn’t always mean singing at the top of your lungs, or dancing or shouting. It’s about just entering into His presence and your response to that.

Here’s what God wants in worship.  Go back to Isaiah chapter 1
Isaiah 1:16‭-‬17 NIV Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong.  Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

Hosea 6:6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings

Micah 6:8 NIV He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
In other words we are to be completely devoted to him and compassionate toward others, not just giving lip service and empty sacrifices. God wants people to actually to know him, not just know about him while ignoring what God considers important which is obedience and love. Living a life of obedience and love is what worship is not just going through the motions: outwardly sacrificing and saying the right things, yet inwardly remaining far from God.

We should be so tuned into God that we’re feeling His presence in our lives in big and small ways.  It’s about who He is, what He does, and our response to those things. Worship isn’t about us. It’s about Him.

Still The Question Is How Do We Worship Him In Spirit And In Truth
Let’s go back to our very first Scripture.

John 4:23-24 NLT But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.  For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

As I said before, worship of God is not to be confined to a place or a prescribed formula or actions.  Because of Christ’s sacrifice, death, burial and resurrection, worship became a matter of the heart rather than ceremony.
Here’s something that Jesus said when somebody asked Him what was the greatest commandment.
Mark 12:28-30 NIV One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”   “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

So….to worship God in spirit and truth means loving Him with heart, soul, mind and strength.

True worship must be “in spirit,” engaging the whole heart which is the source of our emotions.   Unless there’s a real passion for God, there is no worship in spirit. At the same time, worship must be “in truth,”.  We have to know who we are worshiping.  Unless we have knowledge of the God we worship, there is no worship in truth. Jesus said that the truth makes us free.  

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32 NIV

We get that knowledge from the Bible, God’s Word.  That freedom is what allows us to worship in spirit and truth.
Passion and knowledge are both necessary for God-honoring worship. Spirit without truth leads to a shallow, overly emotional experience that could be compared to a high. As soon as the emotion is over, so is the worship. Truth without spirit can result in a dry, passionless encounter that can easily lead to a form of joyless legalism. The best combination of both aspects of worship, spirit and truth, result in a joyous appreciation of God. The more we know about God, the more we appreciate Him. The more we appreciate Him, the deeper our worship. The deeper our worship, the more God is glorified.
Make Time
In everyday life, there are so many things pulling you in different directions. So many things fighting for your attention.  Things fighting for your worship.

We’re either worshiping God or we’re worshiping something else. But we can’t worship both. Worship is how we respond to the thing we value the absolute most! The thing we spend most of our time thinking about, doing, giving the most attention to, putting all our energy into is what we worship.
True worship is your response to how great you know God to be. We should worship Him with everything we have, everything we are, and everything we do.

When we worship in spirit and truth we do what Paul urges us to do in;
Romans 12:1 (NLT)1  And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

Because God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you—because God loves you so much—because God has done great things in our lives—our only natural response to all of that should be the sacrifice of our whole lives.  Our worship in spirit and truth.
There is a gospel song, by Richard Smallwood the title is “Jesus You’re The Center Of My Joy”.
The lyrics of that song are;

Jesus, you're the center of my joy
All that's good and perfect comes from you
You're the heart of my contentment, hope for all I do
Jesus, you're the center of my joy
When I've lost my direction, you're the compass for my way
You're the fire and light when nights are long and cold
In sadness, you are the laughter that shatters all my fears
When I'm all alone, your hand is there to hold,
You are why I find pleasure in the simple things in life
You're the music in the meadows and the streams
The voices of the children, my family, and my home
You're the source and finish of my highest dreams,
Jesus, you're the center of my joy
All that's good and perfect comes from you
You're the heart of my contentment, hope for all I do
Jesus, you're the center of my joy
Worshiping God isn’t just something you do, it’s the way you live. Worship can be as intense as spending an hour every day in quiet time listening and talking to God. It can be something as simple as when you go to work, or to volunteer, or just talking to someone on the street and thanking God for the opportunity that He has given you. You realize that it’s because of Him that you get to do any of these things.

Worship is made possible through a relationship with Jesus.  

When we surrender every day to Jesus, with obedience and with compassion toward others, we  are worshiping God in spirit and in  truth.  

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Romans 12:1 NIV

Jesus, sometimes we are too embarrassed to celebrate you the way that we should. Please help us to worship you in spirit and in truth, without worrying about what other people might think.   I your name we pray Amen.

Sermon Video