This is the 9th week in our long series called This Is How We Roll. And tonight is going to be such a cool night, because we’re going to talk about the very core of who we are. Who are we as people and as a church that follows Jesus? How do we roll?
We worship. That’s who we are. That’s what we do. And that’s what this evening is all about.
We call this a Night of Worship, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do tonight. We’re going to worship.
My message is going to be a little shorter than normal tonight, because we want to devote as much time as we can to personal and corporate worship.
I just want to set the table with this thought. Everyone worships something. You have never met a person in your entire life that isn’t worshipping something. A lot of the time they don’t even know what they’re worshipping, but everyone worships something.
And life will never make sense until you recognize what you’re worshipping. What we worship is the foundation of our entire lives. And if we’re worshipping the wrong thing, then our foundation crumbles.
In 1 Chronicles 16, David said, “Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods.
The gods of other nations are mere idols, but the Lord made the heavens! Honor and majesty surround him; strength and joy fill his dwelling. O nations of the world, recognize the Lord, recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.” (1 Chronicles 16:23-28, NLT)
David calls us to worship God, and he pleads with us to recognize Him. Recognize the Lord. Recognize that He is glorious and strong. It’s all about recognition.
When we recognize who someone is, that changes how we approach them. It changes how we view them. It changes how we treat them.
I’m going to show you a few pictures of some pretty famous people. Only these pictures were taken when these people were in middle school or in high school. See how many you can recognize.
Here’s the first one. Any guesses? Think famous movie star. Any guesses?
That’s Harrison Ford. That’s what Indiana Jones and Han Solo looked like in high school.
Next one. Anybody know who this guy is? Think news anchor.
That’s Matt Lauer from the Today Show.
Next one. Anybody know who this lady is? Think politics. Think woman who wants to be president.
That’s Hillary Clinton.
Next one. Since we’re talking about politics, this one is probably pretty easy.
That’s George W. Bush.
Next one. This one is probably pretty easy, too. Anybody know who this is?
Last one. This one is my favorite. Anybody know who this guy is? If you need a hint, think American Idol.
That’s Ryan Seacrest! You know what that picture tells us? There is ALWAYS hope!
Now, if any of these people walked into this room tonight, we would treat them a certain way if we recognized them. If a former president walked in tonight, we would all take notice. If Oprah walked in, we would all be thinking, “This is awesome. She’s going to give me a car and a trip to Australia.”
But if we didn’t recognize them, we would not respond to them accordingly. It all comes down to recognition.
Go back to what David said in 1 Chronicles 16. He said, “O nations of the world, recognize the Lord, recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.” (1 Chronicles 16:28, NLT)
Recognize the Lord. Recognize His glory and His strength. Recognize that He is Who we worship.
It’s all about recognition. When we recognize who God really is, it changes how we view Him. It changes how we approach Him. It changes the perspective of our entire life changes.
When you recognize what you worship, you’ll find where all of your faith and trust lies. It lies in what you worship. But a lot of the time, we worship the wrong things, and then the foundation of our lives starts falling apart.
Think about it. Just think about what’s in the news today. if I worship my health, then the news about Ebola probably has me freaked out. If I worship my safety and security, then ISIS has me panicked. If I worship my wealth, then bad economic news can send me into a tailspin. It’s all about what I worship.
If I worship success, then I’ll be completely derailed if I’m passed over for that promotion. If I worship the approval of others, then I’ll be willing to compromise anything, just to be accepted.
If I worship my boyfriend or my girlfriend, then I’ll be willing to give up everything and do anything, just to hang on to them.
If I worship my kids, then I’ll be crushed when something doesn’t go their way. If I worship my spouse, then I’ll be devastated when they disappoint me (and they will).
If I worship pleasure, then I’ll be wrecked when life hurts. If I worship my dreams, then everything will fall apart when my life doesn’t go exactly according to my plan.
See, it’s ALL about what I worship. It’s all about recognizing what I worship.
Do you ever wonder why some people can live with incredible peace, even when life gets really rough, while other people completely lose it? It’s all about what they worship.
David told us to recognize the Lord. Recognize that He is glorious and strong. Recognize that He is who we worship. Recognize who God is.
And here’s the deal with that… God’s identity is NOT based on my circumstances. Who God is has NOTHING to do with my situation.
That means that God is good even when my life is not. My circumstances do not define who God is. My situation doesn’t identify Him.
And that’s actually great news for us, because it means that we’re worshipping Someone who is far greater than us. It means that our lives are built on a foundation that is greater than our circumstances, that is above our situation. And when we recognize that, we can live with peace even in the craziest, hardest, most uncertain times of our lives, because our lives are built on a foundation that is far above anything that might happen to us.
I don’t want you to misunderstand what we’re talking about. Worship doesn’t mean that life doesn’t hurt. Worship doesn’t require us to take a Pollyannaish view of life. It doesn’t mean that we don’t experience hurt and pain and disappointment and loss. We absolutely do.
There are some pastors who preach that if you truly love and worship God, you’ll automatically be blessed. You’ll have great health. You’ll get a wonderful job where you’ll make tons of money. You’ll find the perfect person to marry. Your kids will be honor students and all-star athletes. All you have to do is love God and think positive thoughts, and all of this will come your way.
And it’s all garbage. I can’t even imagine how many people end up walking away from God because they’ve been fed this rotgut. Because if that’s true, then why do I still hurt? Why do I still experience pain and disappointment and loss? God didn’t hold up His end of the bargain, so I’m outta here.
That’s not the deal here at all. Worship isn’t our get-out-of-jail free card. Worship isn’t our ticket out of misery and despair. Worship is what we do right in the middle of it.
It all comes back to recognizing who God is. God is not defined by what happens to me. His identity is not found in my circumstances, which means I can worship Him no matter what is happening in my life. I can believe that God is good, even if my life is not.
In John 16, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV)
We don’t worship a god who is defined by our world. We worship a God who has overcome our world! That’s why we can have peace even in the worst circumstances. Because Jesus is greater than our circumstances.
Some of us had to drag ourselves in here tonight. Life has really roughed us up. We’re tired. We’re frustrated. We’re lonely. We’re disappointed. We’re discouraged. We’re broken.
But something inexplicable happens when we come into God’s presence.
Go back to what David said in 1 Chronicles again. We’ll read a little further this time.
David said, “Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods.
The gods of other nations are mere idols, but the Lord made the heavens! Honor and majesty surround him; strength and joy fill his dwelling. O nations of the world, recognize the Lord, recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.
Give to the Lord the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his presence. Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor.” (1 Chronicles 16:23-29, NLT)
Focus in on these words. “Bring your offering and come into his presence.”
When David wrote these words in the Old Testament, the people of God had to bring an offering to come into God’s presence. They had to bring a sacrifice. A bull, a ram, something like that. And that animal was killed as a sacrifice for their sin. You couldn’t just come into the presence of God without a sin offering.
But Jesus changed everything. We live on the other side of the cross. Now, the sacrifice that we need to come into God’s presence has already been made. It was made when Jesus died on the cross for our sin. That sacrifice is the full and final payment for our sin. And that means that we are welcomed into God’s presence because we are free from all our sin.
No matter how weary and messed up and worn out and broken we are, we are welcomed into God’s presence because of what Jesus has done for us. And something incredible happens when we are in God’s presence.
David wrote, “Honor and majesty surround him; strength and joy fill his dwelling…come into his presence.” (1 Chronicles 16:27, 29b, NLT)
What is God’s dwelling, God’s presence like? There is a strength and a joy that defies explanation. And that’s my prayer for you tonight as we worship. My prayer is that as you give God honor, He will give you strength. As you worship His majesty, He will fill you with joy.
That’s what happens when we worship. Worship doesn’t change our circumstances, but it changes our perspective of our circumstances. Worship connects us with a God who is bigger than our circumstances.
Even though our circumstances don’t change, worship infuses us with the strength to face them. Even if our situation is tough, we are filled with a joy that isn’t based on our situation. That’s what happens in our lives when we worship.
We’re going to come into God’s presence in worship tonight, and it all starts by remembering and celebrating what Jesus has done for us. Worship is not about anything I have done. It’s all about what Jesus has done. Without Jesus, we could never enter the presence of God. There was a wall that forever separated us from God. But that wall came crashing down when Jesus died on the cross for us.
And we remember that every week here at Connect when we take communion. We’re going to celebrate communion in a different way tonight. There is a prepackaged cup with both bread and juice in it under every seat in the room.
Our band is going to lead us in a couple of songs. During those songs, whenever you are ready, reach down and take that cup. Eat the bread, which symbolizes Jesus’ body that was broken for our sin. Drink the juice, which represents Jesus blood that He shed willingly for us on the cross.
Now, if you’re just checking things out tonight and you’re not sure about all this, you don’t have to take communion. No harm. No foul. This is just a way for those of us who believe in Jesus to remember what He did for us.
We won’t be giving you any directions from the stage. Whenever you are ready during these next two songs, go ahead and take communion and celebrate everything that Jesus has done for you. Then put your empty cup back under your seat and just enjoy being in the presence of God for the rest of the night.
Let’s go back one more time to what David said in 1 Chronicles 16. He said, “Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.” (1 Chronicles 16:23, NLT)
We worship God in countless ways throughout our lives, but one way that is consistently repeated in Scripture is through music. David said, “Let the whole earth sing to the LORD!”
Well, last time I checked, we’re on the earth. And if the whole earth is going to sing to the LORD, then that means we’d better do our part.
So that’s what we’re going to do as we wrap up our Night of Worship. We’re going to sing. We’re going to sing with passion! We’re going to sing with joy! We’re going to sing to the One who gave His life for us, just so He could be with us!
Enjoy being in the presence of God tonight. And let’s bring God joy with the worship that we give Him right now.