Planned for Gods Pleasure
Planned For God’s Pleasure
Revelation 4:11 (NLT); Matthew 22:37-38 (NIV)
Mike Royco reported this true story in the Chicago Tribune. A man named Bill Mallory traveled to India to discover the purpose of life. But he didn’t find the answer there. So after returning, he noticed a sign at Chevron gas station that simply said, “As you travel, ask us.” So every time he pulled into a Chevron station, he would look to the sign and say, “I’m a traveler. I’d like to ask you a question. What is the purpose life?” These were the real answers he got. I’m not making this up. The first guy said, “Sorry. I’m new here.” The second guy said, “I don’t remember anything in the manual about that.” Another guy said, “I’m not much for church myself, sir.” One guy gave him a leering look and a wink, whatever that meant. However, most people just gave him a blank stare, cleaned his windshield; but he kept asking at all the Chevron stations. One day Mallory got a phone call from Chevron Customer Relations. He said, “We understand you’ve been asking our dealer questions and getting unsatisfactory answers.” The man suggested that he write out his question and send it to Chevron Corporate with a self-addressed stamped envelope. So Bill Mallory wrote, “What is the purpose of life?” and sent it to Chevron Gas Company. A couple of weeks later, the envelope was returned. The only thing in it was an application for a credit card!
If you want to know the purpose of life, you’re not going to find it in a gas station. You’re not going to find it on a talk show. You’re not going to find it in a self-help book. You’re not going to find it at some seminar. If you want to know the purpose of life, you have to either talk to the creator who made you, or look in the owner’s manual. You were made by God and you were made for God. And until you understand that, life isn’t going to make sense.
Now, we’re in this series called “40 Days of Purpose.” Today, we’re going to look at the first of God’s five purposes for your life. God has five reasons for creating you, and today we’re going to look at the first. Number one, let’s read Revelation 4:12 out of the Bible. Would you read it with me? “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. God planned you for His purpose. And the only reason that you’re alive is God wanted you alive and He gets enjoyment out of watching you.
How many of you are parents? How many of 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 were made for God’s pleasure. When you were born, when you came out of your mother’s womb, God was there in that room, smiling from ear to ear, because He wanted you made. God smiled at your birth because He created you to enjoy you. He made you for His purpose.
Now, last week we talked about how you were created to be loved by God. This week we’re looking at the flip side, the first purpose of your life, which is God wants you to love Him back. He wants you to bring enjoyment back to Him. As much as He has created you, He wants you to love Him back. One day Jesus was walking down the street and a guy came up and said, “Lord, what’s the most important command in the entire Bible?” Jesus goes, “okay, I’m going to give it to you. This is the most important thing. If you don’t get anything else, you get this. This will summarize the whole Bible. Okay? Just get this. It’s the most important.” Let’s read it together there in Matthew 22. It’s there in your outline. He said, “Love the Lord your God. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Circle “first” and “greatest.” God says if you don’t get anything else, here’s what you’re supposed to do in life: you’re supposed to learn to love Me back, because I made you to love you and I know you. And I want you to know and love me back.
Now, there’s a word for this. It’s a word we misunderstand so a lot of people don’t use it. It is the word “worship.” Worship is knowing and loving God back. Now, the problem is, that worship is misunderstood today. And when I say the word “worship,” what do you think of? Well, you may think of prayer. You may think of singing. You may think of ritual or communion or going to church, something you do in church. But worship is far, far more than all those things. write this down.
My first purpose in life is to worship God. It’s your primary objective. It’s your highest priority. It is your number one purpose in life. We’re going to talk about what that means today because, unfortunately, as I said, worship is misunderstood.
What does a person look like when they worship? Have you ever thought about that? What do they look like? If you read the newspaper, they always have the exact same picture of somebody worshipping. It is this – [Pastor demonstrates comically holding hands up and mouth wide open] Okay? Now, that may be one legitimate form in millions of different ways. But worship is far more than – [Pastor demonstrates again]. There’s a lot of ways to worship God. We’re going to look at them today. We’re going to look at what does it really mean to worship. Now, probably the best verse that defines worship, your very first purpose is this-Romans 12, verse 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.” There’s the pleasure part. “This is the true worship that you should offer.” Now, I want you to circle three words in this verse -- the word “because,” the word “offer,” and the word “offer.” Because this is what worship is all about. You’re going to study this verse this week in your small groups in the 40 Days of Purpose groups. But I do want to point out two things.
1. Worship is my response to God’s love.
Worship is just the way I react, I respond, to God when He loves me. That’s what worship is. Notice it says “because,” “ because of God’s great mercy,” His love to us, then we worship Him back. You see in this case, God takes the initiative. God always makes the first move. God doesn’t ever ask you to make the first move. He always makes the first move. And He creates us. He saves us. He forgives us. He blesses us. He protects us. All these things and then because of all these things, we worship. And notice what we do - we “offer.” That word describes worship.
2. Worship is giving back to God. Worship is giving back to God. He gives to us, and we give back to Him. And 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. Now, the question is, when it says, “offer” – offer? What am I supposed to offer? I mean, what do you give a God who has everything? I mean, you think finding Christmas gifts is hard for some people? You say, what am I going to buy? What do you give a God who’s got everything? I mean, He made the world. He made you. He made the universe. What do you give Him? I’ll tell you what you give Him…you give Him your love. You give Him your love. And He’s very specific about how to give it. And we’re going to look at this today. In Mark chapter 12, would you read this verse with me? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” Now, in this verse – which, by the way, this is the memory verse for this week in 40 days. That’s the verse you might want to work on this week, the memory verse.
I want to point out that 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, to 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 all your soul.” I want you to love Me passionately, because I passionately love you. And Third, He says, I want you to love me practically. Practically. “love Me with all your strength”, with your abilities. You see, 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 your ability, unless you give it to Him. That’s loving God with your strength. And whenever we take what God has given us -- of course, all those things He gave you first. You have attention, the ability to have attention. You have affections. You have strengths and abilities because God gave them to you. Whenever you take the things God has given to you and you give them back to God, that, friends, is the heart of worship. We’re going to look at it today after this song. Let’s sing the song “Heart of Worship.”
[Song: “Heart of Worship”]
1. Worship is focusing my attention on God. It is focusing my mind, my thoughts, my attention on God. You know, 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 getting our mind focused on God. Not just going through the motions, but really, really thinking about it. Which isn’t always easy to do. Have you ever prayed on autopilot? You know what I mean? You pray before a meal, you pray— blah, blah, blah -- Amen? And if somebody asked you what you just prayed, you’d have no idea. You just prayed on autopilot. Do you ever zone out in church, not when I’m speaking, but sometimes, do you ever zone out in church? 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. Look at what the Bible has to say to us in Psalm 139 verses 1 through 3. “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” -- Would you read this last part with me -- “You notice everything I do and everywhere I go.” God has focused his attention on you. Did you know that? That God pays constant attention to you, that He never takes His eyes off of you. He never stops thinking about you. The reason is He made you is to love you. He made you to give you this attention. And the greatest expression of love is often that attention. Sometimes guys will ask me, you know, “my wife, my kids, they say I don’t love them. But I do things for them. I work every day for them, why don’t they feel loved by me?” Because they want your attention. Attention is an incredible expression of love. And God puts His attention constantly on us.
Remember the first time you fell in love? You just couldn’t get that person off your mind? You thought about them when you woke up in the morning. You thought about them all through recess. You thought about them all day long? You just thought about them all day long? That’s an infatuation sometimes for us and it wears off. But God -- the Bible tells us His love for us is eternal. He is always focused on us, and He wants to teach us to focus our heart and our attention on Him. And that’s difficult sometimes. It is difficult to focus on God. Honestly, the easiest thing to do in life for us as human beings is to lose our focus. We’re not like one of those auto-focus cameras that you might have, you point it at something and it focuses. We have to decide to focus. We have to choose to focus on things.
Now, how do you do that? Well, you have to realize, first of all, that we are very easily distracted. And there are two things that distract us from focusing our attention on God. First, just the truth, we are self-centered by nature. These aren’t in your outline. You can jot them in a corner if you want to. We’re self-centered by nature. And the second thing is, we live in a self-centered culture. A couple verses on your outline about that. Romans 8:7says, “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.” So we have to decide to focus on Him. And then on the back of your outline, our culture -- would you read this verse with me, Romans 12:2, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God.” We must choose --choose to stop thinking about some things and start thinking about God.
Now, how do you do that? Well, first of all, you can start doing that by just establishing a daily time with God. Just a few minutes during the day. I don’t care when you do it -- beginning of the day, middle, end of the day, where you decide I’m going to stop everything else and just be with God. Talk to Him, read His Word. The Bible talks about that in Matthew chapter 6, verse 6, when it says this, “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 will begin to sense His grace.” Would you circle a couple of words in this practical verse with me? Circle the word “place.” You’ve got to find a place to do this. Now, in the Old Testament, there was only one place where you could worship God. It was called the Temple. You had to make a 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 the word also in that verse, “simply.” Just be with God simply. No ceremony, no fancy words. You’re just there with Him, talking to Him. And then circle also the word “honestly.” Just be yourself. I want to relieve some of you of 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. Can I say “constipated” in church? Well, it is how you look. Because the truth is, you don’t have to try to look spiritual, you just have to try to get to know God better. And He’ll take care of the ”making you look spiritual” side of things. So you just be there with Him honestly, establish a time with God.
There’s a second thing that you can do to focus on God, and that is develop a constant conversation with God. Look at the next verse in your outline. The Bible tells us in Psalm 105, verse 4, “Worship him continually.” Just think about Him throughout the day. You have to decide to do that. I know people do that in a lot of different ways. I know a guy who sets his watch to go off every 30 minutes so when it beeps, it reminds him to think about God, maybe to pray for the person he’s talking to. I know someone else who every time they get into their car, they pray the first couple of minutes they are in their car as they are going somewhere. It just reminds them to focus on God throughout the day. Whatever you do, you develop this constant conversation throughout the day.
And as you do this, as we do this, focusing on God has incredible benefits in our lives. Look at the next verse in our outline, the Bible tells us in Isaiah 26, verse 3, “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 are thoughts of worry, insecurity, anxiety, guilt, fear, discouragement. But when that focus shifts from me to God, from you to God, all of a sudden, you begin to sense gratitude and hope and confidence and love. Let’s focus on God right now. Just take a few minutes to focus on Him as we sing…
next song, “Calling Out To You” or whatever would fit here
Now, not only is worship focusing my attention on God,
2. Worship is expressing my affection to God.
This is loving God with your heart and soul. And for some of you, this is kind of difficult because you grew up in families that weren’t real affectionate, weren’t real expressive, didn’t say I love you a lot. Maybe you’re kind of the silent type. It’s not real easy for you to express affection to God without feeling weird or kind of kooky about it. You’re going to have to learn how to grow, how to develop, how to say “I love you God”. Do you remember the first time you ever said I love you to somebody? Probably scared to you death. You had sweaty palms, stomach was in a knot. You were all nervous, are they going to accept it or are they going to reject it; because you were worried about – are they going to say it back to me? Do you remember in junior high when they played this game called “Who’s going to say it first”? And before you kind of get together with a boy or girl, you kind of sent emissaries out and say, “Do you know so-and-so likes so-and-so?” And you kind of check it out before -- I mean, you’re not going to just walk out there and lay it on the line and say, “You are cool,” you know? No, you’re going to wait and find out if they think you’re cool first. And so it’s risky to say, “I love you.” But the neat thing about God is He’s taken away the risk. He said it first. God said it first to you. God said, “I love you.” God has said it in a thousand ways. He created you. He’s taken care of you. Even when you didn’t know it, He was showing love to you. And God has said over and over and over to you, “I love you.” So you don’t have to worry about who is going to say it first.
Notice this verse, the Bible says, “We love Him, because He first loved us.” You know, in many religions, God is this angry tyrant, and you have to appease God and you have to avoid God and have you to kind of run from God, and you have to be afraid of God. But that’s not the real God. The Bible says God wants to be loved. He wants to be loved. Have you ever said, “I love you” to God? God wants that from you. Notice this next verse. God is talking here in the Bible, Hosea 6, God says, “I don’t want your sacrifices -- I want your love! I don’t want your offerings -- I want you to know me!”
Circle the word “love” and the word “know,” because that, friends, is the first purpose of your life; to know and love God. If you get that done, you have 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. You see, the most important thing you can know in life is that God loves you. And the most important thing you can do in life is to love Him back. So when you get up every morning before you get out of bed, sit on the edge of your bed and say something like this, a little prayer. “God, if I don’t get anything else done today, at the end of this day, I want to know You a little bit better and I want to love You a little bit more.” Because if you do that, at the end of your day, no matter how bad the day has gone, and no matter how many plans fell apart – if at the end of the day, you know God a little bit better and you love Him a little bit more, that day was a success. That’s why your heart is still beating. The purpose of your life is to know and love God, first, before anything else.
On the other hand, I don’t care what you get done in a day, and if you knock off 24 things off your to-do list and you accomplish great accomplishments and you achieve amazing goals in your life; if at the end of the day you don’t know God a little bit better and you don’t love Him a little bit more, that day, my friend, was wasted. It’s a failure because you weren’t put here on earth to check things off your to-do list. The first reason God put you on earth is to get to know Him and to love Him back. So that is the first primary goal of your life. And you do it by focusing your attention and by expressing your affection to God. You see, the fact is God has very, very deep feelings for you. Did you know that? Some of you think God is too busy. He didn’t care about me. God doesn’t even know my name. Oh, yes He does! He’s never taken his eyes off you, as Pastor Tom just said. God is intimately acquainted with every area of your life. And He loves you so much and He wants you to love Him back. He’s never too busy for you. In fact, the Bible says He has extremely deep feelings for you.
Exodus 34, says, “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. You go -- come on, man. I made you to know and love me. Why are you ignoring me like this? He is passionately in love with you.
I’ve been married a long time. How about if I walked up to my wife one day and I say, “Honey, here are some flowers for you. And I am giving you these flowers for three strategic reasons: Point No. 1, I am your husband. Point No. 2, it is our anniversary. Point No. 3, husbands are supposed to give their wives flowers on their anniversary. So here.” Wouldn’t she be thrilled? I don’t think so. Why? 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. God doesn’t want – “Oh, okay. I better go worship.” “Oh, I love you, God” [said in a monotone voice]. God doesn’t want duty. He doesn’t want ritual and religion and rules and regulation. He wants a relationship. And He’s passionate about it! And He says, “I want you to love Me as much as I love you, because I made you and I created you.” Now, again, this is hard for some of you because you’re not naturally expressive people.
So how can I express my affection to God? Well, if you have never done it before, let me tell you how to get started. Start by just saying “thanks.” Just start by saying “thank you.” Start looking around at everything and start thanking God. “God, thank you for a beautiful sky today. That’s gorgeous.” “God, thank you for green trees.” “Thank you for clean air.” “Thank you that I’m still breathing.” “Thank you that I live in America and I have freedom.” “Thank you that I woke up this morning.” “Thank you that I had something to eat.” “Thank you that I’m not freezing to death right now.” You could go on and on. Everything you look at is here because of God. “God, thank you for electricity.” A lot of people don’t have electricity. Everything you look at is a gift from God. So you just start by being thankful. You could probably think of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of things just to start thanking God more for. That’s a good way to start expressing your love to God.
There’s an article called “Ten ways to worship God without music.” Because some of you think the only way you can worship God is singing. Singing is a wonderful way to worship God. If you’re not a particularly musical person, there are a lot of other ways to worship God, too, than just singing. So you need to learn to express your affection in many different ways. Of course, the greatest 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 they do these things called vows -- remember that? And it says, “I do.” And you say, “yeah.” “You do?” “Yeah, 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. You have to give. So when you say, “God, I want to express my love to You,” you say, “I give You my heart. I give You my soul. My soul is in Your hand. I want You to take my life.” That’s the greatest way to express your love to God.
Look at Romans 6. It says, “Give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life.” Again, remember, it’s always a response. God gave us life, then He gives new life in Jesus. He says I want you to give yourself completely back to Me. So you do that. What holds us back? Why do you not give your life completely to God? Well, I’ll tell you, it is one word -- f-e-a-r. You’re scared to death. You’re chicken. You’re afraid to give your life to God because “if I give my life completely to God, is He going to turn me into some kind of religious nutcase?” You know, “I’ll become one of those fanatics that I see on some of those TV channels and I’ll walk around having to say things like” -- and it changes your pronunciation -- you start saying “Jeeesus.” Kind of a little spooky there – “Jeeesus.” Not Jesus, but “Jeeesus.” Every time, you know, you stub your toe, you have to go “Praise the Lord!” I don’t think so! God doesn’t want to turn you into a goof ball. He made you to be you. You know what? God likes you the way you are, that’s why He made you that way, with that personality -- whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, like routine, like variety. He made you the way you are. And God doesn’t want to you turn into some nut or fanatic or some religious zealot. He wants you to be you. 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 as a human being fully alive. And the more you know God and the more you love God, the more normal you become. Not more kooky or whacko; the more normal and the more you become what God meant for you to be in the first place. But it is fear that keeps us from giving ourselves completely to God.
Liz Curtis Higgs was one of the best-known disc jockeys in America, and she lived quite a wild life. A really wild lifestyle without God. In fact, Howard Stern was the a.m. show, and Liz Curtis Higgs was the p.m. show. And one day Howard Stern said to Liz, “You know, you need to get clean up your act.” Now, that really says something if Howard Stern is saying it, okay? I mean, she was a little on the wild side. And because Liz Curtis Higgs had been burned by so many men and her heart had been broken and she had been hurt by so many men, she became a militant feminist. And I underscore, militant feminist. But she had a Christian girlfriend who kept inviting her to church. So one day after a long, long time, she said, “Okay, I will go to church one time and ONE TIME ONLY.” So she went to church one time with her friend. And that week, the pastor just happened to be teaching on the Bible verse that says “Wives submit yourselves to your husbands.” Now, that’s not exactly a good verse to start with a militant feminist, okay? And she got a little uptight, a little ticked, a little angry. But she continued to listen and she actually heard the second part of the verse, which nobody ever talks about. You see, the second part of the verse says “and husbands - you sacrifice yourself; you give yourself for your wives just as Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for the church and died for her.” People don’t ever hear that second part, okay? Who is asked to give their life up? The husband or the wife? The husband. Okay? The husband. Well, when Liz heard that part, she leaned over to her friend and said with a little cynicism, “well, shoot, I’d gladly give myself to any man if I knew he would die for me.” And her friend leaned over and said, “Liz, there is man who loved you enough to die for you. His name is Jesus Christ. That’s how much He loves you.” And it was not long after that that Liz dropped her guard, surrendered her life to God in love, became a believer. Today she is a well-known Christian author and speaker.
I know what some of you are thinking, you’re saying, “Rick, this thing about loving God. You know, I just don’t love God enough.” That’s not your problem. You say, “I don’t love God enough.” That is not your problem! Your problem is you don’t realize how much God loves you. That’s your problem. If you really knew how much God loves and cares about every detail of your life, you’d throw yourself at Him, and go “Oh, how could I not love a God like that?” You just don’t know how much He loves you. Worship is always a response. It’s we love God because He first loved us. When you understand how much He loves you, loved you enough to even come to earth and die on a cross for you, then you say “Okay, God, I surrender myself to You, my soul is in Your hands.”
[Song: “My Soul Is In Your Hands”]
That song just for the series on the Purpose Driven Life. Now, worship is focusing my attention on God. It is expressing my affection to God, and it is using my abilities for God.
3. Worship is Using my abilities for God. This is loving God with all your strength. You see, 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. I have been married long enough to know that it takes more than just words and kisses to express affection. Yes, my wife likes me to tell her, “I love you, Kay.” And I try to tell her that every day. And she likes me to kiss her and express affection physically. But there’s another kind of love that you need, too, to back it up. That’s practical expressions of love. Sometimes there are chores to be done. Sometimes there are things that need to be fixed. Sometimes there are errands to be run. Sometimes there are responsibilities to be shared. And that’s the practical thing where I use my abilities to show, this is not just words, I really do love you and I show it by my action in practical ways – fixing, helping, serving, sharing, those kinds of things. And that’s part of worship, too.
Notice, Colossians 3:23, read it with me. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.” Now, if you get this verse, it will absolutely revolutionize your life. You’ll never be the same once you understand this verse. Notice it again. “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 see, you don’t have to join a monastery to worship more. Some of you will go home from this thing saying, if my No. 1 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. Well, then I should come to church every day of the week. No, you don’t need to do that either. It is not about that. You just change who you’re working for. And when you change who you’re working for, your work becomes worship. You see, many of you compartmentalize your life saying, “Okay, here’s my worship. I go to church once a week. Maybe I go to a small group once a week, and maybe I have a daily time where I’m reading a little bit every day about God and trying to learn from Him, and that’s my worship. And then over here, I’ve got my career and then over here I’ve got my social life.” No, 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.
Now, if you don’t get anything else we’ve said today, I want you to get this one truth, because it will revolutionize your life. In life it’s not what you do that matters; it is Who you do it for. 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. You say, “I’m going to do this as if I’m doing it for you, God.” Now, you may be a carpet cleaner, you may be an attorney, you may be a nurse, you may be an at-home mother raising children, you may be an executive or a manager or sales person, or a truck driver or a nurse. It really doesn’t matter what you do. It’s Who you do it for. A lot of people get hung up on this and go, “What is God’s will for my career? God, should I do this or do this?” God says, “I don’t care. Beats me. Whatever you want to do. I wired you up in a certain way to have certain interests. Why don’t you do what you’re interested in doing?” God doesn’t care whether you’re a truck driver or an attorney or a doctor or nurse or whatever. God wants to know, “Are you doing it for Me?”, whatever you’re doing. And so if you’re good at repairing things, you go out and say, “God, I want to repair things this week as if I’m doing it for you.” And if you’re good at cooking, “God, I’m going to cook this meal, whether it’s for my family or for a restaurant, as if I’m doing it for You.” And if you’re good at filing and organizing, “God, I’m going to file these things away as if I’m doing it for You.” And that turns work into worship, and then you’re worshipping God 24 hours a day. Not just in church. 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 next verse, I love this paraphrase in the Message, it says in Romans 12, “Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, your eating, your going to work, your walking-around life – and place it before God” – as a what? – what? – “Offering.” There’s that word again. We said “offer” is the essence of worship. I’m offering my life to you. Now, folks, this is where the rubber meets 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 time of quiet time with God every day, of prayer and reading the Bible. It happens in the ordinary, routine, mundane, things of real life where you go, “God, I’m going to take out the garbage for You.” You can make beds to the glory of God. You can milk a cow to the glory of God. You can clean your garage to the glory of God – and some of you ought to! Everything can be turned into an act of worship. Notice, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,” putting your heart and soul in, as though you were working for the Lord.
Now, what if you decided today, you said, “God, tomorrow morning, I’m going to get up and I’m going to go back to work and it is the same old work I’ve been at for 10 years or 20 years or whatever, but this time I’m going back with a new boss. I’m going to do it for you.” That will turn mundane, trivial things that don’t seem to mean a whole lot into worship. And honestly, that’s the kind of worship God loves. I don’t want to bust any bubbles here today, but God really isn’t into incense and candles and ritual. He’s into this kind of worship that says “God, whatever I’m doing, I’m going to do it for You.” And when you do that, then your life becomes an act of worship. You see, real worship is a lifestyle.
The truth is everybody worships something. You were wired to worship by God. He put it in your DNA. You couldn’t stop worshipping if you had to, because it is part of being a human. Everybody worships something. That’s why you can go to any culture in the world and find people worshipping. If you don’t worship God, you’re going to find a substitute real quick, even if it is just yourself.
Last summer, the hit TV show on television was “American Idol.” Folks, there are thousands of American idols that we worship all the time. Let me ask you, what are you worshipping? What are you worshipping? I’ll tell you what it is. It is whatever you’re giving your primary attention to, whatever you’re giving your primary affection to, and whatever you’re giving your primary abilities to. Now, in that case, some of you worship your career. You worship your career, and you’re living for that job. Some of you are worshipping making money and 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 and ability goes to that person.
Now, let me tell you something, the greatest temptation of your life and the worst sin you could possibly commit is the temptation to worship something other than God. You say, “That’s not my problem.” Oh, yeah it is. It’s my problem, too. It’s the number one problem in life, because 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 is the worst of the greatest temptation because it’s the one Satan pulled on Jesus. If he had had a bigger tool, believe me, 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 else other than God, to give your attention, your affection and ability to something other than the Creator who made you. Now, 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, “I’ll take care of everything else. You don’t have to worry about it. I will 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.
Joel Morgan planned to visit missionaries in Eastern Europe. So he asked some friends what to pack. They said food snacks for yourself, because there isn’t much to eat in the rural villages of Eastern Europe. As he walked through the grocery store, he prayed, “Lord, what might make it through customs?” He picked up Reese’s peanut butter cups, some tapioca pudding, some hard candy and gum, and some malt, some small cans of fruit cocktail. When Joel arrived in Romania, he stayed with a missionary family who were living in very harsh conditions, often without heat and electricity. They enjoyed a very good evening of conversation and prayer together. And as Joel started to leave, he remembered the snacks he had brought for himself and he had an idea. He thought, you know it is only October, but why not use these snacks to celebrate an early Christmas? So he got out his backpack and began to play Santa Claus in their living room. He asked the missionaries’ two teenage daughters, “If you could have one thing from the U.S., what would it be?” In unison, they said, “Candy!” “What kind?” Joel asked. The mother chimed in, “The girls love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. But they are not available here.” With a lump in his throat, Joel pulled out the king size package and the girls began jumping up and down laughing as they held their gift.
Wiping away a tear, Joel asked their mother, “Well, what item from back home would brighten your day?” Now, this was a big risk. I mean what if she asked for a side of beef? She said sheepishly, “I miss fruit, especially citrus.” Reaching into his bag, Joel pulled out a can of fruit cocktail and mandarin oranges. Now everybody was laughing, and everybody was wiping away tears. After a time of celebration, Joel turned to the father and he thought about pulling out the few remaining items left in his bag and letting the dad make the decision, two out of three miracles ain’t bad. You know, why press your luck? But something deep down inside Joel shouted, “Go for it!” And before he could argue with God, he heard himself ask, “Gary, what is your favorite dessert?” The dad smiled and said, “You know, it’s something nobody else in the world likes, tapioca pudding.” Joel nearly injured himself pulling out the snack pack of tapioca pudding that God have prompted him to buy seven days earlier and 4,000 miles away. What followed was praise and worship in its truest form. Nine people crowded in a little living room in Romania weeping, praising singing, thanking God, for a God that cares about even the little details of our lives.
You know, we could spend the rest of the day here and just share stories. Every one of you who are believers, I’m sure, could share stories of little examples of how God cared about details in your life, in the smallest needs. That kind of God – He is worthy of our worship. When you understand how passionate He is about you, how much He loves you, how much He cares about every detail, you can’t help but love God. Do you know what you’re going to do in heaven? The Bible says in heaven, we’re going to give God our attention, we’re going to give him our affection and we’re going to give him our abilities for all of eternity. And here on earth, God wants you to practice so that when you get to heaven, you know how to worship.
Now, 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? You let it wander, what does it naturally gravitate toward? Whatever that is, is what you worship. Did you know that your checkbook and your schedule, your Daytimer are theological documents? Without even knowing you, if you were to show me your checkbook stubs and you were to show me your schedule, I could tell you right now what you love, because the way you spend your time and the way you spend your money shows what you love the most. The Bible says you were planned for God’s pleasure. You were made to know and love God. So I challenge you to make as the No 1 goal of your life before everything else, getting to know and love God, because that brings Him pleasure. You make as your goal what Paul said in the last verse on your outline, he said, “So we make it our goal to please Him.” There’s not a better goal in life to have than that one right there.