Welcome to week 3 of “What on Earth Am I Here For?”. Hard to believe that it’s already the end of September!!
We are now in the third week of an 8 week series. We are all going through Rich Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, both here on Sunday morning, in our daily reading, and in our weekly Life Groups. I hope that all of you were faithful in your daily reading of both this book and of the Bible. Remember nothing can replace reading the Word of God.
Let me ask you a quick question: How many of you found it difficult to be disciplined in this? How many of you found it hard to actually sit down and read for the 10 or 15 minutes per day? Did it seem like something else always came up? Your alarm didn’t go off? The kids were sick? You stayed up too late watching a TV show? SOMETHING always seemed to come up, or you were too tired…
Don’t worry, if that happened to you, you are not alone. In fact, if you really think about it – did you have the same difficulty checking Facebook, or watching the news, or playing a game on your phone? NO? Well, that’s because none of those activities make you closer to God – which is why the enemy is fine to let you do all those things undistracted. But as soon as you pick up your bible or the PDL, your brain goes foggy or you remember something urgent you have to do. That’s just his tactic to keep you away from the one thing you will do in that day that will actually matter in eternity. Don’t let him win. Push through. Force yourself to do it. And PRAY!! Ask God to give you the strength, the focus, the determination…and He will. Try that this week. Make it your first thoughts in the morning, and see if it makes a difference.
Now, let’s get on to PURPOSE #1.
Last week you learned that the reason you are alive is to be loved by God, and that your life matters immensely because you matter to the one who made matter. And you learned that the only way to find out your purpose in life is to ask the one who made you. When we do that, we find that we have five purposes in life, and the one we will talk about today is the most important of the five.
You, God, created everything, and it is for Your pleasure that they exist and were created.
Circle “for Your pleasure.” The Bible says you were created for God’s enjoyment. God made you just to enjoy you.
How many of you are parents? Do you enjoy watching your kids? Most of the time! And I think the same thing is true with God. Most of the time He enjoys watching you be you.
You and I were PLANNED FOR GOD’S PLEASURE.
The first and highest purpose of your and my life is to bring God pleasure.
And we do that by loving Him.
Jesus was once asked what the greatest commandment was. His response:
37 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
Circle “first and greatest”.
God made you to love you, and He wants you to love Him back.
And the word for what He’s asking for is:
A lot of people think that worship is the three or four songs we sing during a church service. In fact, if you search for “worship” in google images you find almost nothing but pictures like this. Funny, you also get the same thing if you google rock concert audience. I guess if you’ve ever been to a concert and raised your hands, then you are worshipping a false god…
But seriously, while singing is a form of worship, worship is certainly not limited to music. It’s also not limited to church. Some may think of coming to church as worship, or communion, or giving, or serving as worship. The truth is that all these things are worship, but there’s even more to it than that.
Our first purpose in life is to worship God.
It is our primary objective.
Our highest priority.
Our number one purpose in life.
To worship God.
So, what does it look like?
Probably the best definition in the bible comes from Romans 12:1
Because of God’s great mercy to us, offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer.
Circle “offer”. This is what worship is all about.
While you will see more about this during the week, I want to point out two things.
- Worship is MY RESPONSE to God’s love. (fill in)
Worship is the way I react, the way I respond to God when He loves me. That’s what worship is. Notice it says, “Because of God’s great mercy,” His love to us, then we worship Him back. In this case God takes the initiative. God always makes the first move. God never asks you to make the first move. He always makes the first move.
He creates us,
He saves us,
He forgives us,
He blesses us,
He protects us.
All of these things.
Because of all these things we worship.
- Worship is GIVING BACK to God. (fill in)
He gives to us and we give back to Him. Whenever you give back to God, whenever you offer anything to God, that’s called worship. And that brings pleasure to God. It brings enjoyment to God. When your kids are grateful to you as a parent, that brings pleasure to you. When we’re grateful to our heavenly Father, that brings pleasure to Him.
The question is when it says “offer”, what am I supposed to offer?
What do you give a God who’s got everything?
He made the world, He made you, He made the universe. What do you give Him?
You give Him your love.
And He’s very specific how you give it.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.
God wants me to love Him three ways.
First, God wants me to love Him THOUGHTFULLY. It says “love Him with your mind.” Thoughtfully. In other words, He wants you to think through. Not just do it without thinking. He wants you to worship Him thoughtfully. Know and love Him thoughtfully.
Second, God wants me to love Him PASSIONATELY. He says “With all your heart and with all your soul.” I want you to love Me passionately. Because He passionately loves you.
Three, He wants you to love Him PRACTICALLY. “with all your strength.” Your abilities.
The truth is that even though God created the entire world and the universe and He created you, there are three things God does not have unless you give them to Him.
- He doesn’t have your ATTENTION unless you give it to Him. That’s loving God with your mind.
- He doesn’t have your AFFECTION unless you give it to Him. That’s loving God with your heart and your soul.
- And God doesn’t have ACCESS TO YOUR ABILITIES unless you give it to Him. That’s loving God with your strength.
The ability to do these things, give attention, give affection, give abilities, was given to you by God, but He can’t take them back from you – you have to give them. That is the heart of worship.
So how do we do it?
- Worship is FOCUSING MY ATTENTION on God. (fill in)
It’s focusing my mind, my thoughts, my attention on God. In a lot of religions the idea of worship is to put your mind into neutral. Sort of lose your mind to the universe. But the truth is God wants us to worship Him thoughtfully. It takes energy. It takes putting our mind, focused, on God. Not just going through the motions but really thinking about it, which isn’t always easy to do.
Have you ever prayed on autopilot? (like my kids) Do you ever zone out in church? Not when I’m speaking, of course, but other times? That reminds us that it takes energy and attention to focus on God.
You know why God wants your focus? God wants your focus because He is focused on you.
You have looked deep into my heart, Lord and You know all about me. You know when I am resting or when I am working. You notice everything I do and everywhere I go.
God has focused His attention on you. God pays constant attention to you. He never takes His eyes off of you. He never stops thinking about you. Focused attention is an expression of love.
Men seem to have the most trouble with this one. How many of you men would say that your family should know you love them because of all the things you do for them, like working to keep the roof over their head and food in their bellies?
That IS one expression of love, but there is another one even more precious – your attention. Your focus.
Putting the phone down and looking her in the eyes as she tells you every minute detail of her day…that is love. And God loves you that way. He pays attention to every single second of your external AND internal life. Because He loves you. And He wants you to love Him back and show it with your focused attention.
And it’s difficult. It’s difficult to focus on God. It’s not natural to us. Our default focus is on ourselves. From the time we are old enough to think, we think mostly of ourselves. But we also have the ability to choose what we focus on. And God wants us to focus on Him.
Focusing on yourself is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God and ends up thinking more about self than God. (MSG)
Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. (MSG)
It’s a choice. As most things are. It’s a choice. Each moment of the day, we all have the option to focus on ourselves or to focus on God. It’s an either-or, you can’t do both at the same time.
Now, with that said, God knows that we have things to do. We have families to take care of, jobs to work at, people depending on us. We can’t spend all of our time like some Buddhist monk sitting in a trance focusing on God. God doesn’t want that either. But you CAN spend SOME dedicated time with HIM each day. Commonly called a QUIET TIME.
Just a few minutes each day. 15 to 30 minutes set aside to focus on God. Read His Word. Talk to Him. Listen.
I’m sure that each one of us spend more time than that each day focused on something far less worthy than God, and perhaps even harmful to yourself.
Find a quiet secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God and you’ll begin to sense His grace. (MSG)
Circle “place”. You’ve got to find place to do this. In the Old Testament there was only one place where you could worship God. It was called the Temple. You had to make journey there to worship God and focus on God. That is not true anymore. You can worship God anywhere. You just find a place. Your car on the way to work, someplace in your backyard, a corner of your living room where you can focus on God.
Circle also “simply.” Just be with God simply. No ceremony, no fancy words. Just there with Him talking with Him.
Circle “honestly.” Just be yourself. I want to relieve some of you from some pressure. Don’t try to be spiritual. It doesn’t work anyway. You end up not looking consecrated but constipated when you try to look spiritual. The truth is you don’t have to try to look spiritual. You just have to try to get to know God better. He’ll take care of the making you look spiritual side of things. Just be with Him honestly.
So, a dedicated focus time or “quiet time” with God is one way to focus your attention on God.
Another way is to:
Develop constant conversation with God.
Worship Him continually.
Think about Him throughout the day. You have to decide to do that. People do that in a lot of different ways.
You could set an alarm on your watch to beep every hour as a reminder to think about God.
You could make it a point to think about God every time you go to the bathroom, or pick your nose, or eat. Three things we each do multiple times in a day. You can think of something else that works for you.
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, whose thoughts are fixed on You.
When you focus on yourself the inevitable result is thoughts of worry, insecurity, anxiety, guilt, fear, discouragement. But when that focus shifts from ME to HE, all of a sudden you begin to sense gratitude and hope and confidence and love.
So, one form of worship is…
FOCUSSING MY ATTENTION ON GOD – WORSHIPPING HIM WITH MY MIND.
Another form of worship is:
- Worship is EXPRESSING MY AFFECTION to God. (fill in)
This is loving God with your heart and soul. For some of you this is kind of difficult because you grew up in families that weren’t very affectionate, weren’t very expressive, didn’t say, “I love you,” a lot. Maybe you’re kind of the silent type. So it’s not real easy for you to express affection to God without feeling weird or kind of kooky about it.
That’s ok, but you are going to need to learn to get over that. Just imagine if Jesus had been so timid…you and I would be in a lot of trouble…
But I get it. Telling someone you love them is a big risk. It makes you extremely vulnerable. What if they don’t love me back? It’s like when you are dating someone and it’s getting serious – who’s going to say it first?
Well, when it comes to God – He’s already made the first move.
In fact, He laid himself out there in the most vulnerable way possible.
Jesus died for you before you ever had a chance to love him back.
And he even did it knowing that many would reject Him.
Is it so much to ask you to respond with a little bit of heart felt emotion?
1 John 4:19
We love Him because He first loved us.
He’s not asking us to love him first.
The God of the bible loves you first and only wants to be loved in return.
I don’t want your sacrifices. I want your love. I don’t want your offerings. I want you to know Me.
Circle “love” and “know.”
That is the first purpose of your life – to know and love God.
If you get that done you’ve accomplished the most important thing in life. God wants you to know Him and love Him. Because you were made to be known and loved by God.
The fact is, God has very, very deep feelings for you.
He is the God who is passionate about His relationship with you.
Circle “passionate.” God is passionate about you. He longs to know you. He longs for you to know Him. He longs passionately for you to have a relationship with Him. He is passionately in love with you.
I’ve been married for awhile now. How about if I walked up to my wife one day and say, “Here are some flowers for you. I’m giving you these flowers for three strategic reasons.
Point one, I am your husband.
Point two, it is our anniversary.
Point three, husbands are supposed to give their wives flowers on their anniversary. So here.”
Wouldn’t she be thrilled? I don’t think so! Why? Because she wants me to love her passionately. She doesn’t want duty. She wants desire.
God doesn’t want your duty. He wants your desire.
He doesn’t want ritual and religion and rules and regulation.
He wants a relationship.
And He’s passionate about it.
He wants you to love Him as much as He loves you because He made you and He created you FOR THAT VERY PURPOSE.
AND IT’S NOT LIKE HE MADE IT HARD TO LOVE HIM!!
LOOK AT ALL HE HAS DONE FOR US!!
If you’ve never expressed love to God, there’s an easy way to start:
Start by just saying, “Thank You.”
LIST SOME THINGS
The BEST way to express affection to God is by giving your life to Him, by yielding yourself to Him.
When you do a wedding and you see two people stand up in front of each other and do these things called vows and say, “I do.” What were they doing? They were saying, I give you my life. I surrender myself to you. I’m committing myself to you. Why? Because that’s the essence of love.
You can give without loving.
But you cannot love without giving.
TO SHOW YOUR LOVE TO GOD, GIVE HIM YOUR LIFE.
Give yourself completely to God since you’ve been given new life.
Remember it’s always a response.
God gave us life and then He gives us new life in Jesus and He says, I want you to give yourself completely back to Me.
What holds us back? Why do you not give your life completely to God? One word. Fear.
You’re scared to death. You’re afraid to give your life to God because you think, “If I give my life completely to God is He going to turn me into some sort of religious nut case? I’ll become one of those fanatics I see on some of those TV channels.” Or maybe you’re afraid he’ll send you to Africa as a missionary, or call you to be a preacher, or maybe you fear what I used to fear as I was resisting – that I would always have to be poor.
Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m not rich, but I certainly have more than I need. And now that I’ve surrendered my life over to him, none of that stuff even matters anymore. I feel like I’m finally living!
God doesn’t want to turn you into a goofball! He made you to be you. God likes the you that He made. Your personality is not a mistake. He made you the way you are. God doesn’t want to change you except to make you the very best version of yourself!
In fact you’re not fully you until you’ve got God in your life. You’re just existing. You’re not living.
The glory of God is a human being fully alive.
It’s fear that keeps us from giving ourselves completely to God.
But there is truly nothing to be afraid of except an amazingly awesome life!
Which I suppose scares some who prefer to scrounge their way though life as long as it’s on their own terms.
The choice is yours.
Worship is always a response. We love God because He first loved us.
So, now you’ve seen two of the three forms of worship: Focused attention on God, and Expression of Affection toward God. The third is:
- Worship is USING MY ABILITIES for God. (fill in)
This is loving God with all your strength.
God wants us to SEE Him with our minds.
He wants us to SENSE Him with our heart and soul.
And He wants us to SERVE Him with our strength.
Just like in a marriage. Words and kisses are not enough. Sometimes the greatest expression of love can be something as simple as putting your dish in the dishwasher instead of the sink, or propping the door open before your mate get’s home from work with their hands full. It can also be taking care of the kids full-time so the other can go to work – and likewise working full-time so the other can stay home with the kids. We do these things for the one we love.
God also wants us to DO THINGS FOR HIM. In fact, He wants us to do EVERYTHING FOR HIM.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.
If you get this verse it will absolutely revolutionize your life. You’ll never be the same once you understand this verse. Whatever you do – that means anything – work at it with all your heart as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.
You don’t have to join a monastery to worship more. Some of you think “If my number one purpose is to get to know and love God then I should have a quiet time with God five hours a day.” No. You don’t need to do that. “Then I should come to church every day of the week.” No, you don’t need to do that either.
It’s not about that. You just change who you’re working for.
When you change who you’re working for your work becomes worship.
Many of you compartmentalize your life: here’s my worship. I go to church once a week. Maybe I go to a small group once a week. Maybe I have a daily time where I’m reading a little bit about God and trying to learn of Him. That’s my worship. Then over here I’ve got my career. And over here I’ve got my social life. No. God says I want you to invite Me into every area of your life. I want to be involved in all of it. Invite Me into the whole thing.
If you don’t get anything else I’ve said today I want you to get this one truth.
It will revolutionize your life.
In life, it’s not what you do that matters. It’s who you do it for. You give it all to God. And all of your work can be turned to worship.
I don’t care if you’re a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker. You can do it for God.
God doesn’t want worship to just be a church thing.
He wants it to be your whole life, to worship God with your life.
Notice this verse, the paraphrase of Roman 12 in the Message “Take your everyday ordinary life – your sleeping, your eating, your going to work, your walking around life and place it before God as an offering.”
There’s that word again. We said offer is the essence of worship. I’m offering my life to You.
This is where the rubber hits the road. Real purpose driven living doesn’t happen in a church. It doesn’t even happen in a small group. It doesn’t even happen in your personal quiet time with God everyday – prayer and reading the Bible.
It happens in the ordinary, routine, mundane things of real life where you stop doing things only for yourself, and realize that your whole life – every second of it is meant to worship God by living it for him.
The truth is, everybody worships something. You were wired to worship by God. He put it in your DNA.
The primary purpose for your existence is to worship, so you are going to worship intentionally or not. It’s what a human being does.
But God also gave us the ability to choose what we worship.
The thing you worship is whatever you give the most attention, passion, and strength to.
What are you worshipping? I’ll tell you what it is.
It’s whatever you’re giving your primary attention to.
Whatever you’re giving your primary affection and
whatever you’re giving your primary abilities to.
In that case some of you worship your career. You’re living for that job. Some of you are worshipping making money. You’re worshipping retirement. Some of you are worshipping pleasure. Some of you are worshipping sex. Some of you are worshipping another person who so dominates your life your total attention, affection, ability goes to that person.
The greatest temptation of your life and the worst sin that you could possibly commit is to worship something other than God.
It’s the number one problem in life. It’s your problem. It’s my problem.
It is the root behind every other one of your problems. Whenever you love something more than God, you’re going to have chaos, conflict, stress and problems in your life. Always.
When I love comfort more than doing the right thing, I always get into trouble.
When I love protecting my ego more than God and humility I’m going to go down the wrong path.
When I love my reputation, when I love money, when I love pleasure, when I love anything more than God, it creates all kinds of havoc in my life.
We know it’s the greatest temptation because it’s the one Satan pulled on Jesus. If he’d had a bigger tool he would have used it. He said, “Why don’t You worship something else.” The biggest temptation in life is always going to be to worship something other than God, to give your attention, your affection, and your abilities to something other than the creator who made you.
The amazing thing is this: if we focus our attention and we express our affection and we use our abilities for the one who made us, God says He’ll take care of everything else. You won’t have to worry about it. He’ll take care of it all. The Bible says in Psalm 37 “God pays attention and God delights in every detail of our lives.” Every detail! Even when to take the trash out…
Jesus said, Seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will be added to you.
AGAIN, GIVING YOUR LIFE TO GOD IS WAY BETTER THAN TRYING TO RUN IT YOURSELF.
The greatest mistake you can make in life is to miss your primary purpose. So let me ask you a question. What do you think about most? Because whatever you think about most is what you love the most. What do you think about when you just let your mind drift, let it wander. What does it naturally gravitate toward? Whatever that is, is what you worship.
Did you know that your calendar and your bank statement are a snapshot into your soul?
Because the way you spend your time and the way you spend your money shows what you love the most.
YOU WERE PLANNED FOR GOD’S PLEASURE.
You were made to know and love God.
DON’T IGNORE THIS.
DON’T COMPARTMENTALIZE THIS.
DON’T REJECT THIS.
I urge you this week as you are doing your reading and meeting with your groups that you take a hard look at your own life, your inner life, and ask yourself and honestly answer the questions I listed in you bulletin insert:
- What in your life do you give the most attention, affection, and access to your abilities?
- What does your calendar and your bank statements say about what you love the most?
- Do you love God the way you want your spouse and kids to love you? Or is it just duty?
- What are you going to change today to show God that you truly love Him?