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Worship: You Were Planned for God's Pleasure
Scripture: Romans 12:1-2
Track 3 of 8 in the Purpose-Driven Life series
Running time: 30 minutes, 32 seconds.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, September 25, 2005
3rd sermon in an 8-part series.
Purposeful Words: A series of Sermons on living a Purpose-Driven life
(Romans 12:1-2)
Copyright 2005 G. Charles Sackett

I was feeling just a little bit concerned when washing the shower reminded her to pray for the staff. (laughter) But I got over it when I saw that she was praying for Elders while she cleaned the toilet. So I'm (lots of laughter) not sure what all that means, but thanks. We're grateful to be prayed for.

I brought my favorite tool with me this morning. I have a bigger one. It's somewhere in my garage with everything else that I can't find. Um, this is just the most remarkable tool because you can do so much with it. It works really good if you need a chisel. As long as you've got a hammer of course, to be able to pound it with. If you don't have a hammer it works perfectly well as a hammer. Just the same, ya know, that's obviously what this handle is for and you can see the nicks where I've actually used it that way. It works really well, if you are short of a pry bar and you need something to get under things and frankly, it works pretty well for cleaning out the under side of my lawn mower. Uh, when I get bored and there are friends around it really works well for a game of "stick um". If you don't know what that is, talk to me later. It's one of the more dangerous things that you do with these. Oh, by the way, you can also use this to install and un-install screws.

Every tool, while it may be used for multiple things, was made for a reason. It has a purpose.

And one of the things we're wrestling with over the next five weeks is what in the world were we made for? I mean, there's a lot of things we can do with ourselves. There are lots of things that the human body can function as. There are a lot of things that the human life can produce. The question is, what were we made for? And what you're reading in your book is going to tell you, according to Rick Warren, and I think Biblically, the case there are five things that we are primarily created to do.

We are created to worship; to have fellowship, to be disciples, to serve and to evangelize.

And this morning our concentration is upon worship. And I wrestled, how in the world to try to get a handle on what that means and how that might help us understand who and what we are. So I ended up just coming back to one of those very common texts that I think has a great deal to say about worship.

Romans 12:1-2 If you've got Bibles, I hope you'll turn there because we're just going to muse on that text. We're just going to spend some time looking over those first two verses of Romans 12, and we're just going to ask ourselves, what in the world is he talking about. What does he mean by what he says in this particular text. You're familiar with it, I think, if you've been around the church very long at all. Ah, let me read it for you. Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.

He starts that text out very simply saying, I urge you. I urge you, I encourage you. It's a word that is often used to talk about exhortation. It's, in fact, the word from which we get the idea of the "comforter", the Holy Spirit. It's a sense in which Paul says, I am trying to help you come to the place that you desire, you choose, to do these things. It's not a command word. Paul had all kinds of words he could have chosen that were words of command that he could have told us, do these things. He doesn't. He says, I urge you to. I exhort you to. I encourage you to do this.

I think what has to come to mind at that particular point is this. Worship is a choice. Worship is something that you engage in by your own personal choice. If you come to the end of Romans 12:1 he says, - this is your spiritual act of worship. That's one possible translation. In fact, it's kind of an unusual translation for that word. The word literally is, "reasonable". It is our reasonable act of worship. And that carries with it the connotation of something that you've thought about. It has been reasoned about. You have made a choice to worship. It's a reasonable choice. It's something that fits the nature of this particular object.

Screwdrivers are made to drive screws. That's the reasonable thing that you do with them, the appropriate thing that you do with them. It's the natural thing to do.

And what Paul says in Romans 12: I urge you to present yourself as living sacrifices. This is the appropriate thing. This is the natural thing that you ought to do because of your relationship with God. We worship because, frankly because, we're designed for it. It's the way we're created.

It was Blasˇ Pascal who said that there's a "God shaped hole" is all of us.

Some contemporary singer has captured that and made millions off of his comment, but it's true. There is, in all of us, a void that we long to fill. It's why the human being appreciates art, for example. Because we're drawn to that which is beautiful. It's why we appreciate good music. Because we're drawn to that which is harmonious and creates an appreciation for things. It's why, quite frankly, we're drawn to each other. Because there's something about a relationship that helps fill this kind of inner gap that we all have created within us that quite honestly is only filled by God; and yet, humanity has tried its best to fill it will all kinds of things.

I think that's why pornography is such a problem. Because the human heart longs for that which is beautiful. And at it's most base and worst, we will find that wherever we think we can find it.

But in every case, all we're trying to do is fill this hole in us that says, "I long for something inside to give meaning to who I am." To give me something to appreciate. Something outside of myself to look to.

And God says in this text, through the apostle Paul, choose to offer yourself to God. It's an offering word. It's a sacrifice word. It's an Old Testament word. It's the word that would be used to walk up into the temple grounds with a sheep in tow or a dove in hand and say, I'm here to present myself to God.

Worship is, in fact, a presentation. It is something that you choose to offer to God.

Now, that means, there are a lot of things that it's not. It isn't a style. Worship is not determined by whether or not it is traditional or contemporary or blended or liturgical or orthodox. That has nothing to do with it. Now, do those constitute forms of worship. Absolutely! But just because you walk into a service of a particular style doesn't mean you've chosen to offer something to God. It isn't a particular kind of music.

Rick Warren said in the video, if you were paying attention and he will say it in the book. This isn't about the style of music. God likes all kinds of music. I find that a little hard to believe, but, I'm not going to betray which of those I don't think he should like.

It isn't about what goes into worship. For example, it's an age old argument, it's been going on for, oh I don't know, 2000 years or so; what's the most important thing that happens in worship? Is communion the central idea? Or is the sermon the central idea? Or is the singing the central idea? That's not the issue. Lacey said it well when she said, Music does not equal worship. That's important for us . . . .there's a lot of things that worship isn't, what is it? It's the offering of ourselves to God. It's the presenting of ourselves. It's a choice that we make to come into the presence of God and to offer Him us. So I choose whether or not I'm going to worship. That's one of the most troublesome things that ever, I think, has to be dealt with. This issue of choice. 'Cause there are certain things in worship I like. Frankly, there are certain styles of worship that I like. Which by its very nature says that there are certain styles of worship that I don't like. I'll just divulge that to you. I don't particularly care for very poorly done traditional worship. I like good traditional worship. I just don't like poorly done traditional worship. Now, by that, I'm already biasing myself and saying doing it well means. . . . See I've already decided that there is a good worship and there is a badly done worship and I found myself often, as a visiting preacher, going from church to church to fill in during preacher's vacations discovering that quite often . . . . . . . .right. In other words, they didn't do it the way I liked it.

And I woke up one day and said, I can spend the rest of my life going to places where they don't worship right, or I can make a conscious choice to worship wherever I go. Now do you hear the difference? We can come in here and have all of the technology fail. We can come in here and not have anything work right. We can come in here and not have anybody show up to play music, and still have worship because we choose whether or not we're going to worship or not.

That's a choice I made when I came through the door this morning. That I was going to engage in worship whatever we chose to do. Because the statement is present yourselves as living sacrifices. You choose. You make this offering. So we encourage you to choose, obviously. We encourage you to engage in worship. To bring your heart and your mind with you when you come to worship. And Lacey is correct when she says, you know, sometimes first services are a real bummer, ya know. I mean, you're just barely out of bed and you try to get the kids ready and for cryin' out loud, bah! Kids ought to be left home on Sunday morning! (Laughter) They get up and go to school easier than they do this. And by the time you get to church you're so frazzled, so you make a choice. I'm going to come in here and I'm going to engage God because that's what I do in here.

Now, can I just take a second and say, engaging God in worship does not necessarily mean, audibly or obviously participating. There was a moment over here, just a little while ago when I was standing right over here, absolutely silent, I wasn't singing and if you had looked at me you would not have seen me visibly participating in worship. One of the reasons was, because I was just listening and thinking; my, how good that sounds and if I like that, God must really like it. Now hear me. That's the question. Did God like what we gave Him?

The question is, never did I like worship this morning. The question is, never did I get something out of worship this morning. If you're asking those questions, forgive me for being blunt - those are the wrong questions. The question is, Did God enjoy worship this morning? Did God get from us what we desired for Him to have? I urge you, brothers, present yourself. This is your reasonable act of worship. You come choosing to give to God what gives Him pleasure.

Well, if I don't get off of those first two words, we're going to be crowding out second service.

But part of it is this. We had this wonderful discussion last Sunday at Elders' meeting. It's delightful to work with these men who like to talk about stuff that matters. And one of the guy's was saying, We need to have more praying in our services. And I certainly echo that there could be much more audible praying in our service. Some of you are saying, YES. And at the same time I said, and yet when I sing a song like, "I stand in awe of you. . ." That is a prayer. If you view it as one.

So sometimes it's a matter of you and I seeing things just slightly different about how we view worship and yet, to understand that each of us comes here and offers to God something of great worth and value. I got in this discussion a few weeks ago with somebody over the difference between hymns and our contemporary songs, whatever that happens to mean. He was saying that the hymns are full of wonderful theology and I said, "Yeah, the new songs are nothing but Scripture being quoted." You think about that just for a minute. It's a mute point. Yes, there is great theology in the old hymns, but, you know, you can't go too far wrong just quoting back the Bible.

Well, I'm musing and that sounded a lot like preaching. He says, Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, . . . . . This is such a wonderful thing because it's so much like we've been talking about through the Ten Commandments. Remember how we started the Ten - well, it doesn't matte how WE started the Ten Commandments. Remember how God started the Ten Commandments? I am the God who brought you out of Egypt, therefore don't have any other gods before me. The law was couched in the terms of grace. From the very beginning God says, don't forget what I did for you. I redeemed you. Therefore. . . . See law was never intended to produce grace. Law is merely the reflection of grace. Worship is never to produce the mercy of God. Worship is always a reflection on the mercy of God. In light of all that God has shown us, in His mercy therefore present yourselves. You're not earning something by coming in here to worship. You're simply reflecting what God has already done in His magnificent mercy. I n light of God's mercy. . . .

Well, just think of the book of Romans 1-2 & 3. You're all a bunch of sinners. Romans 4 & 5 God did something about it. He sent His Son Jesus. Romans 6 You chose to identify with Jesus in Baptism and put the old life to death. Romans 7 Yeah, but the old life keeps coming up and fighting with me and I wrestle and I stir and Romans 8 comes along and says, Yes you may have great trouble but God sent His Spirit to live in you and if His Spirit is in you, it's greater than anything that's in the world. Romans 9-10 & 11 God's incredible plan to not only have a Jewish nation but to incorporate into that nation the Gentiles and those people becoming one people through whom He was going to work. Here is God's eternal plan He says. He understands that men are sinners but He is going to do something about it through His Son and we respond in human response so that we can be a part of God's plan. In light of God's great plan of mercy not to send you all to HELL. Present your bodies as living sacrifices,. . . . That sounds reasonable doesn't it?

As an act of reflection; as an act of wonder that God would do that for me. He says, turn around and give me something. Give me YOU! In light of God's mercies, present yourselves as living sacrifices. How could we not worship a God who did that for us? And so He says, Present your bodies. . . . .

Interesting isn't it? Present your bodies. . . . . I think He did that because of the great mind set that He was working with. In other words, I think He's trying to communicate, present everything that you are.

In your reading this week, Rick Warren is going to quote for you the passage in Mark that says Love the Lord your God. In fact he's going to ask you to memorize this text.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.

In fact, he's going to summarize it in three ways. We worship thoughtfully with our minds; we worship passionately with our hearts; we worship practically with our bodies, with our abilities and you saw that on the screen. That there are things that we do because we choose to offer them. Ya see, it doesn't matter whether you're talking about the farm or the factory or the football field, if it's offered to God.

That's the key. Worship is that which is offered to God. Worship is when you bring your whole self and consciously say, "I want this to be offered to God."

It went by a little quick but Brother Lawrence was quoted up here and Brother Lawrence is one of my very, very favorite old guys, dead guys. Three, four hundred years ago. And he talks about every moment being in the presence of God whether you're peeling potatoes in the kitchen or you're engaged in worship. But, it's because you've made a conscious choice to make this a moment of worship.

And so, you can worship when you're cleaning toilets because you choose to do that in a way that is worship. You can make your bed in God's honor as a response to God and that can be an act of worship. You can work in the field or in the factory or you can play on the football field and it can be an act of worship because you choose to make that worshipful. You choose to make this an offering to God. And the absence of that choice means that it's just another activity. Do you hear the difference?

I get in my car and I turn the key and I make a choice. Am I going to drive as a worshiper of God or am I gonna drive like I normally do. It's a choice. I choose it. Now please hear me because this is absolutely critical to understanding New Testament worship. The same thing applies to what happens in here. Just because you sat through a worship service and you sat through singing or you even engaged in singing and maybe even listened to the song did not make it worship if you did not choose to offer it to God as worship.

What made that singing time a few minutes ago a worship was not that it was music, was not even the lyric, was not that it was done inside a building called a church, it was because you, as believers in Jesus, chose to offer it to God as a statement of your thinking. He is worthy of your worship.

Just going through Christian motions doesn't make anything worship which is why we would invite you to engage in the worship process. Which means listening during the sermon. Which means participating at the table and really engaging this. Which means participating in the offering. It is an act of worship. It means singing or at least musing on the lyrics while we sing. You don't have to sing them but at least pay attention to them and muse on them. Worship is that time when we do our very best to offer ourselves and what we're doing to God.

Do you notice what this text says. This is "Pleasing to Him".

One of my very favorite phrases in all of life is to "make God smile". I've got to be honest with you, there are very few things in my whole life that I enjoy more than being made to smile. And I don't do it often. I have a rather demure manner. But I can remember sitting in the bleachers at a track meet and watching my children and just grinning from ear to ear.

I can sit and watch my grandson do almost anything and it brings a smile to my face. Now there are some things that don't! But. . . (Laughter)

Do you ever just ponder, "did what I just do bring a smile to God's face?' Do you understand how that would change our attitude about everything we did? Is God smiling? Is what we're doing pleasing Him. It's why, if you pay much attention at all, at the end of our service, if you've not already started for your Sunday school class or headed out to lunch by the time second service is over, if you listen at all, you will often hear me walk up to the front and say, "I hope that God has enjoyed what we've offered Him." "I hope He smiles this morning." But you see, I hope He smiles when you're eating lunch. I hope He smiles when you're at work. I hope He smiles because that defining question is so critically important. Is what I'm doing pleasing God?

And he says, this is our "act of worship." This is something that we do and this is an unusual word. This is not your normal word for worship. This is a word, well, see there are words that mean to kiss the face of God. There are words that mean to bow before God. There are words that mean to lay prostrate on the ground before God. This is not one of them. This is a word that means to do service to God. It's a word that carries with it the idea of ministering on God's behalf. It's the idea of fulfilling your purpose before God by doing what you're created to do. Which means that it can be in a shower or in a courtroom or any place else. It means it can happen in here. It means it can happen out there. Because here in this text, as a part of understanding our purpose, we understand that we are designed to present ourselves to God's disposal. To make ourselves available to Him whatever He wants us to do. That is worship - just simply letting yourself be what God desires you to be.

Now there are some obvious implications here. I didn't even read this second verse. But listen, these are the obvious implications of being a believer who is engaged in worship by giving yourself, consciously choosing to make your life a life of worship.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,. . . .that's one of the things that is the obvious thing that we're supposed to do. We're not supposed to be conformed. We're not supposed to be squeezed into the world's mold. If everything we do is just like what the world does, then there's something wrong with that.

And then he says, . . . .but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Transformation is a word that occurs in the New Testament in at least two or three different places that are very, very important. One of them is when Jesus goes up on the Mount of Transfiguration, we call it. It's the same word where Jesus is transfigured before the disciples and He becomes what He's going to be ultimately after the resurrection. There is this change.

It also occurs, interestingly enough, in 2Corinthians when He says, "we are being transformed" into the image of Christ. See, one of the obvious implications is that we're in a process of being changed and that happens, He says in Romans 12 by "renewing our minds".

It's why we are pushing so hard for you to participate in 40 Days. To go to a Bible study or to attend a class and to read your book and to memorize the Scripture and to listen to the sermons as you let God change your mind, renew your mind, He will change your character and you will be transformed into the image of Christ.

You ought to know by now that we're not gonna say at the end of 40 Days, it's all done. We're just hoping to prime the pump and get you started in this process.

The bottom line of this whole thing is - we were created to worship. We worship when we consciously offer ourselves and our activities to God. It's an act of worship that can and should occur in here on Sunday.

At the risk of preaching at you, might I remind you of Hebrews 10. Do not despise; do not get away from; do not stop gathering together with other believers. Don't stop assembling yourselves and even more so as you see the Day approaching. I think he's talking about the second coming. As you anticipate the coming of Jesus, whatever you do, do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together. You need each other if we're going to succeed in this thing. And so we call for you to be faithful to worship.

I found it really odd for us to say. We want you to come seven Sunday's in a row. Like that is some kind of big deal. Can I just be really honest with you? I expect you to come 52 weeks in a row. What day do you take off and say, "well, today is my vacation from church." It's the day you choose not to worship. That's what it is.

It ought to happen in here. Worship ought to occur when you and I walk through these doors having prepared ourselves to say, "What I'm going to do this morning in this place is to give God everything I have, because He's given me everything I need." And I make a choice. I'm gonna worship. I'm not going to criticize, I'm gonna worship. I may not like it, but I'm gonna worship. It may not be my style, but I'm gonna worship because it's my choice and then we're going to turn right around and we're gonna walk outside and we're gonna say, "At the end of this day, when I go to work tomorrow, or when I go home with my family this afternoon, I'm going to make what I do, when I'm standing there cooking lunch an act of worship because I'm going to offer this lunch to God as if it belonged to Him."

And I'm going to turn my life into a life of worship. Maybe that's a choice you need to make.

Back here there are two trees, there are hundreds of these little leaves on tables back there. At any point during 40 Days that you make a decision for Jesus, a decision as easy as saying, " I choose to make my life an act of worship." We're encouraging you to write that down and stick it on that tree as testimony to the fruit of God's Spirit working in us in bringing bounty to our lives.

But that is what we're asking this morning. Nothing less, that you choose to make your life pleasing to God which is your worship.

We're going to stand and sing this song. One Thing. Just One Thing. Just focus on knowing Him.