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Stop Faking It!
Live Without Hypocrisy
Nobody likes a hypocrite, and nobody wants to be one. But for some reason, living an honest, authentic life is tougher than it sounds. God calls us to walk as "children of light," but many of us find ourselves living shadowy lives of part-time spirituality, and then wonder why our hearts feel cold and our prayers go unanswered. If you'd like to know how to live a winsome, whole and holy life, join Chip Ingram for this series from Ephesians 5.More from this series
Worship is God’s primary means of allowing us to see Him, significantly, but not perfectly. You know what I mean by that? Significantly, but not perfectly. When you worship God, because you are fallen, we are going to see Him in a mirror or darkly. But we can see Him significantly and accurately. Worship is God’s primary means of allowing us to see Him for who He is and, thus, be progressively transformed into His likeness.
After we are told to be filled with the Spirit, those four participles, three of the four are going to talk about – what? Worship. It’s going to talk about speaking. When do you speak psalms and hymns and spiritual songs? When do you do that? When you worship. When do you sing – was it really hot today? This is usually a very intellectual group that is really savvy and you’re giving me that, you know? And I’m not even talking as fast as normal!
When do you sing and make melody in your heart toward the Lord? When you worship! Very good. Okay? What is occurring, whether you are privately in your devotions or whether it’s in a worship service, or whether you are singing a song of thanks or whether you are driving in the car or whether you are reacting, even to a difficult situation when, under your breath you are saying, “Thank you, Lord, in things and for everything.” What are you really doing then? You’re worshipping.
I want to suggest that this passage gives us three modes to see God through worship. Three specific ways. The first we’re going to look at is corporate worship. The second we are going to look at is personal worship. And the third thing we are going to look at is what I call “Practicing the Presence of God” worship.
So let’s dig in. Let’s talk about corporate worship, here. Corporate worship comes out of verse 19, the first portion, where we speak, there is fellowship, songs, hymns, spiritual songs.
My definition for corporate worship is: the regular gathering of God’s people to meet and powerfully experience God in order to ascribe to Him the glory, the focus, and the rightful place in their hearts that He holds in the universe. Now, that’s kind of long so let me say it again. It really was long, wasn’t it? Corporate worship, now think about this, though. Corporate worship is the regular gathering of God’s people to meet and experience God. Why? So that we can ascribe to Him the glory and the focus and the rightful place in our hearts that He already holds in all the universe. You get it?
You think it’s a priority? You think corporate worship is just something that is kind of nice? A suggestion thrown in there? How important do you think corporate worship is to God? Notice the text here. Hebrews 10:24 and 25. It says, “And let us consider how to spur one another on toward love and good deeds, and let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as is the habit of some, but let us encourage one another – all the more as we see the Day approaching.”
We are commanded in Scripture, as believers, to gather and come together, to spur. It’s a very strong word. To spur, to ignite, to challenge, to inspire, to instruct, to engage one another to love and good works, coming together as the body of Christ, to worship God. It’s a very high priority to God.
Notice Psalm 27:4, an Old Testament picture of this. Think of David. One of the wealthiest men in the world. He had it all. Powerful warrior, musician. And if you asked David, in a personal, sixty-minute interview, “David, what is the one thing that is most important to you? Is it all your armies? Is it all your wives? All your concubines? All your treasures?” And David would say, “One thing, one thing I have asked of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”
Why? What does David want to do when he comes to the house of the Lord, the synagogue in those days, when he draws near with God’s people, what does he want to do and why? What does it say? “…to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”
Are you starting to get this idea? See, unveiled faces, behold, gaze, the beauty of the Lord – are you starting to get what corporate worship is all about? It’s God’s people coming together regularly, systematically, to meet God, to see Him for who He is, and then to ascribe the glory and the focus and the rightful place in your heart that He already holds in the universe.
Huge priority. The purpose is to behold God and to see Him. The purpose is to recalibrate your soul. Do you find that when you come and worship that it does that? Do you find that your soul, what’s that old song? You know how our hearts are prone to drift, prone to wander? When you come and see God, when we sing, when we get into the Scriptures together, when we fellowship with one another, we behold God. It recalibrates your soul, and gives you perspective about what is important, and who you are, and how much you are loved, and that God is sovereign and good.
And you need to remember that, as we see all the things happening in the world. That’s the purpose of corporate worship. It’s to encounter and experience Him.
And then, are you ready for this purpose? It’s so that you can come to give your offering. See, the word worship literally means to ascribe worth. We have almost lost this in our day. We unconsciously think that worship is a place to come and either get something or to be entertained or to be motivated. We have just, sort of, fallen into it.
But when you would come before any king, at any time, in any country, in almost any culture in the world, you came in homage, number one, and you were privileged to get to have access, few people ever did, and you could never come to a king unless you brought – what? An offering!
The reason we come together and ascribe and give Him the place in our hearts that He holds in the universe is so that we get to offer something to Him. He made it all, He is all, He is all-powerful, He knows all, He is the sovereign of the universe, but He chose you and He loves you and He has a relationship with you. And what do you do with people that you love?
A deep friend, what do you end up doing? You give them gifts. What do you do with a mate? Don’t you even have birthdays? What do you do for your kids? You want to give them an offering. You want to express your love. So what offering does God want? He wants you.
The first thing and foremost He wants, when we come to worship, He wants you to come so mentally prepared that you are not asking, I wonder who is preaching. I wonder if they are going to sing the kind of songs I like. You’re coming prepared to say, This is the most important meeting of the week, and I am going to, first, offer myself to God. And then I’m going to offer my gifts to God. And I’m going to offer my heart to God, and my affections to God, and I’m going to recommit my body to God, and my time to God, and my money to God. And I’m going to say to God, “Who am I to get to come before the King of the universe? I worship You, I thank You, I ascribe worth and value, I bring all that I have and all that I am, and I bow in reverence before You and I exalt You in my heart, as You are exalted in all the universe.”
That is the purpose of worship. Is that how you think about it? How do you practice that? How do you practice that kind of worship? Well, one thing it says, it says to speak psalms. Those are Old Testament truths that give us a sense of God’s character. So we understand who we are bringing these things to. It says, “hymns,” those are actually New Testament, that we find a few of them in the New Testament, in that day, and we have now hymns of today.
Hymns tend to be more doctrinally oriented that tell us who God is and what He has done. And then there are spiritual songs. And you have people coming up with a lot of different ideas because we don’t have any definition in the Bible of a spiritual song. But a spiritual song is like Mary’s response or the response of Deborah after the battle. Or the response of Moses, God even gave him a song and He said, “Put this down in words, and we had this great battle, and sing this song.” So in your experience you remember the good things God has done so that you can worship and ascribe value and glory to Him.
And so a spiritual song can be something that someone else has written, it can be something that spontaneously comes off your lips. But they tend to be more experiential. They tend to tell us what God has done in our life and our experience, whereas the psalms and the hymns tend to be more doctrinal, more focused on truth.
Now, corporate worship, then, needs to be God-centered, it needs to be Word-centered – notice: psalms, hymns, spiritual songs have to do with truth. And then there is something interesting, here. Music plays a vital role. It plays a vital role. There is something powerful, God created music. I don’t get it. But there is something powerful about taking the truth of God and the Word of God and the person of God and wrapping it in music, because music does something beyond the cerebral, music does something down in your soul, down in your heart, and allows you to express something in a way that I can’t get my arms around. I can’t do that on my own.
When we sang, tonight, “Let everything, let everything, let everything give praise to God. If we could know how much You’re worth, Your power, Your might, Your endless love,” and I don’t know, something just happened inside of me and I just went, Whoo. And this group served me so I could draw near to the throne of God and see who He was. That is a part of God’s dynamic of worship.
Now, I have a question for you and then I want to practice this, okay? The question I have is, and just brace yourself, there is no little dig coming, but it is very convicting, okay? And I want you to think seriously. How do you prepare for the most important meeting that you have all week? You have the opportunity, at least once a week, to come before the King of the universe, who sent His Son to die for you, who loves you, who is sovereign, who is good, and has commanded you to gather together regularly and systematically.
How do you personally prepare your heart, your life, your schedule, your family, the offerings that you are going to bring? How do you prepare for the most important meeting of any week, that has the power to let you see God for who He is, completely recalibrate your soul, and transform your life? Because as you see Him – what? You become like Him.
Do you prepare for weekly worship with the same level of intensity and planning as a good movie? When there is a really hot movie, you get your tickets in advance, right? And how many people come to a movie, a really hot one, a great one, like, ten or fifteen minutes late? Who cares if you miss the beginning of the movie, right? Or do people come twenty or thirty minutes early and stand in line to make sure you get a good seat? Interesting, isn’t it?
Do you prepare to meet God with the same level of intensity that, if you had a very hot date, for those of you that are single? I mean, a hot date, like, Man, hey. You think about it; you plan out what you wear; you plan out what you’re going to smell like; you plan out where you’re going to go; you think about how much it’s going to cost; you’re going think about how you’re going to try, in a good, positive, Christian way to impress her, or him. This may sound trite, but what if you got a call? And you come home tonight and there’s – beep – message. “Hi, I’m the Secretary of State, like to have a meeting with you.” So, how would you prepare for that? You have fifteen minutes to tell him anything you want. “I don’t know, I’ll put it on notecards while I’m waiting in the outer office. I don’t know, you know?” Do you see where I’m going?
If you had a major deal, a multi-million dollar deal, and you were going to get a good percentage of it, how do you prepare for those major deals when you walk in the room to do the negotiations? When you go to a job interview that could be the job interview of your life and this could be the job that could take you over the top, how do you prepare for that?
I jotted down a few words that come to my mind. I get really mentally prepared, I think about it during the week and the night before, I have an attitude that I come with to all those situations – very clear. I’m punctual.
I have focus, and I have clear expectations. Do you worship God with expectation, focus, punctuality, and with an attitude that you now have the opportunity to meet with the most important person you will ever meet that has the greatest power to transform your life? Is that how you worship? And if not, could I suggest that if you begin to approach worship in that way, what you take home would be a different person than you brought in, because you would meet God, in a deeper, more powerful, profound way?
So we came in, we sang a couple, or three songs, didn’t we? Does everyone have a little bit different focus of who God really is? Would you like a redo? Would you like to stand with me now and say, “I would like to sing some songs thinking about who I am really talking to now. I would like to, my soul has been soberly recalibrated.” And, do you notice the little metaphor here: drunk? Sometimes, people, when they are drunk in love or when they are drunk on alcohol, they are a little less inhibited. It’s amazing how inhibited we are in worship and how desperately we are afraid of what other people will think of us.