The motivation of worship is God and God alone

Well hey there, China Grove First Baptist Church and everyone else who may be watching online with us today. It is so wonderful to have you and I’m glad that you’ve taken time out of your busy schedule to open the Word of God and hear it preached and proclaimed. And I pray that you would be able to understand it and that you would be able to apply it to your life as we just allow God to speak to us.

We’ve just completed a series of sermons through Nehemiah that took several weeks and it was a rich, fulfilling series of sermons, and I was just so excited to be able to teach and preach through that book. We’re heading towards Advent. The Advent season will start next Sunday, I believe it’s November the 29th, and we’ll be looking at the themes of Christmas with hope and peace and joy and love as we go through the Christmas season together.

But today I want us to look at Psalms 100, Psalm 100. If you have your Bibles, and I hope you do, I would invite you to turn or click or scroll or swipe, however you read God’s Word to Psalm Chapter 100.  I want to talk about worship. You know what does it look like to worship? What does it look like to be excited and what does it look like to be thankful.  We are entering this week of Thanksgiving and so Psalm 100 is just a fitting passage for the week of Thanksgiving.

But first I want to tell you this. Not too long ago I was craving steak and so I went to the grocery store. And, you know, I’m not a professional chef or anything, but I’m kind of picky and I’m kind of a steak snob. You know, it’s gotta be the perfect steak. And so I’m in the store amd I’m standing there. People are backing up because I’m hogging the meat section. I won’t pick it out, and they’re like, just pick one. Just pick one. But I’m looking for that, and in this particular case I was looking for a ribeye because I wanted it perfectly marbled with fat. You know, just that perfect color that fat woven through it, ’cause you get all the flavors and the juices from all the fat that’s in a good ribeye steak. And finally, after kind of digging through the meat section I found at the very back of the perfect steak about probably about an inch-thick perfect marbling and so I just grabbed him. I threw him in the car and I was excited. I mean I had other things to buy at the store but I could just, I mean I was just, I was almost dancing down the aisle like I’m gonna have steak and I was just excited. Then you go through the preparation process. Now I massage the steak as I prepare it with some olive oil and salt and pepper. That’s all you need on steak. You don’t need anything fancy ’cause it’s going to, you know, let the meat speak for itself.  And so then you get that grill perfectly hot and you just throw that steak or gently put that steak on the grill and you hear that sizzle, and then your juices start to get, you know your mouth starts to water and you’re just like this is gonna be awesome. It’s just exciting. And then you take that first bite and you are overcome with this sense of joy, the sense of look what I did, although we didn’t do that much except cook it. But it’s just exciting and I get excited when I look at Jennifer or now Larson, who loves steak. When I watch them take that first bite and you can just see that you know everything about their day just melts away with that bite. It’s exciting and I think you know, and I get excited to cook. I get excited about food. I get excited about cooking steaks and I love steaks and I think everybody gets excited. I think we all have things that bring us joy that bring us happiness. Things that just really get us going with this emotion of excitement.  We dance, I’ve been known to dance at a good meal, you know just you put it in your mouth and just do a little happy dance while you’re eating it. You know we dance and we shout and we jump up and down at sporting events or you know we get excited about that new car smell that’s I mean just absolutely awesome. You get in the car. I don’t know what, where it comes from or what it is. But I know this that when you go through the drive through in that new car for the first time and you throw that cheeseburger in the passenger seat, you’re never going to have that new car smell again. It just doesn’t last, and they’re like, oh, and you’re not excited anymore. I mean, about the smell, and that’s kind of what life is, right?

We have these things that get us excited. We have these things that bring us joy. We have these things that we celebrate.  But it doesn’t always last. You know, we can have our favorite sport teams.  You know, basketball season is coming up and we’ve got Duke and Carolina. And I know there’s some Kentucky fans. I don’t know why, but there’s some Kentucky fans and we get excited about basketball. We get excited about our college teams and then they lose. And it’s like, this is that moment of disappointment, and so these excitements, that is, the excitement that we get from things, doesn’t last forever. But what I want to talk about today is the fact that there is something or someone that does bring us excitement that should bring us excitement, something that we can have that will never disappoint us. That will never let us down.  Something that we can live our whole lifes, excited about something that has an eternal joy and everlasting joy. And that is God our Father. God our Creator. You see we were created by God in the image of God for the glory of God.  I mean, that was the intent of the Westminster Catechism says that the chief end of man is to worship God and enjoy Him forever.

And that is the source of our excitement that is the source of our joy. And when we get excited about God, when we jump up and down about God, when we yell and scream and lift our hands and clap, showing praise and honor to God for what he’s done for who he is, that’s called worship.  In our whole life should be lived with this undisguised, unashamed, unapologetic worship for who God is, what God has done, and what God is doing today.  And so that’s what I want us to look at when we look at Psalm 100 because we see the method of worship and we see the motivation of worship.

So Psalm 100 says this, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.  For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Man, I just love that passage of Scripture. I love it because it shows us how to worship. You know the method of worship is all throughout the Bible and there’s just some good summary statements in Psalm 100.  And it starts out with like this, one of my favorite things is shout for joy or make a joyful noise depending on the translation that you have, but shout for joy. I love it because I get permission from God Almighty who inspired the Psalmist to write this word to shout.  I mean, I know like sometimes when we come to church, we’re kind of reserved and were “reverend” and we kind of just were very serious and we’re very solemn, and the Bible says that we need to come to church, shouting to bring glory to God, shouting for joy, because God’s done some great things in our life. And so, this is enthusiastic praise. It’s enthusiastic worship.  You know we shout about a lot of things, don’t we?  I shout at a ball game. I shout at my kids when they make me angry or anybody who makes me angry. Driving on the interstate I sometimes shout.  I shout in the middle of the night when I try to get up to go get a glass of water and I step on that itsy bitsy Lego that was left in the floor from the day.  Now that’s not worshipful shouting you see worship full shouting is giving all the praise and glory back to our God. It’s saying that I’m excited about what God has done in my life.

You know what this is referring to or what this is kind of a good illustration of this would be when a king comes back to the city after a great victory. You know, the king marches in and he’s all proud and you know the army has defeated the enemy and he’s defeated the enemy and the everybody in the town comes together and it’s this huge parade and they’re all shouting. It’s like you know the three cheers. Hip hip hurray. Hip, hip hurray.  Hip hip hurray.

You know, I remember as a young child back in the early 1990s kind of experiencing this first hand after we won the first Gulf War. I remember seeing the men and women of our armed forces marching through major cities in the confetti and the people just shouting and just celebrating the victory.

You know we have a King too, and His Name is Jesus Christ.  And he has been victorious over sin and over death, and that is worth shouting about. We’re not a bunch of dead dry bones.  We have been given new life. God has breathed into us the breath of life and then through Jesus, He breathed into us new life because we become new creations when we decide to follow Jesus and I don’t know about you, but I didn’t deserve it but He did it anyway, because He loved me, and that’s why we shout. That’s why we get excited because God sent His one and only Son to die for us. And I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit here. But the method of worship is shouting for joy. We shout, and we worship with gladness, we sing a joyful song.

I’ve been known to sing quite loud in the shower.  I’ve been known to be driving down the road with my worship music on just singing away, but you may be like this or not, but when I come to church with a crowd of people, sometimes I get pretty timid. I don’t always like to sing because the honest truth is I can’t sing.  The bucket that supposed to carry my tune has got a bunch of holes in the bottom of it.

I was reading this devotional called pure praise. It’s a devotional own worship and the author writes a story about a little girl. He defines her as having a glow that showed.  And this is the story he writes. The girl says, you know, I don’t sing very well.  But that’s OK because I figure this God made my voice and since He made my voice, He must like to hear it so I’m gonna sing as loud as I can.  Just a little girl.  This little girl didn’t care what others thought about her. She didn’t care about being called uncool. She didn’t care about being a radical or a fanatic. She didn’t care about people staring at her or people telling her to calm down, she wasn’t supposed to do that. She wasn’t going to let anything stop her from worshipping God and shouting for joy.

You know worship is also giving thanks to God. We also see that in Psalm 100.  You know 2020’s been a pretty interesting year. In fact, I don’t think any of us have lived through anything quite like what this past year has been.  There’s been a lot of ups and there’s been a lot of downs.  But yet we should still find things to be thankful for.  You know, I’m thankful for, just me personally, I’m thankful for this congregation. I’m thankful that God allowed you to be patient for two years and then did a work in me for two years, and then at the right time in God’s sovereignty, He brought us together and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for my family.  Grateful for just so many other things like I’m so grateful for so much I can’t even think of him right now. But you know, we have a lot to be thankful for. And as I’ve been saying on Wednesday nights, we give thanks in all circumstances because God is still good and God is still on His throne and God is still in control. And as I was meditating on thankfulness this week, I just couldn’t help but go back to this, “when upon life’s billows, you are tempest tossed. When you are discouraged thinking all is lost, count your many blessings, name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

I would encourage you to do that. Sit down. Write out what God has done. Take stock of the many blessings that you do have in life, and I think that you will see how great our God is.  And so we can worship by giving thanks. We worship by shouting. Let me share a few others with you because we can worship by simply speaking. We don’t always have to shout. We can worship by speaking Psalm 107. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”  “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”  This is how we bless the Lord. We tell others about how He redeemed us.  You know, missions is something we’re really going to focus on, and I’m going to focus on as your pastor. “Missions exists because worship does not”.  You maybe think we worship every Sunday. Yeah, but not everybody in the world worships. There are people who are not worshiping God today or any day and so that is why we are on mission. And I got that quote from John Piper.  I want to make sure I’m not stealing it, but Piper says that “missions exists because worship does not.”  And so when we speak about the redemptive love of God, it is a form of worship. But we’re also prayerfully, hopefully letting God use us to lead others to worship Him also.  We can worship by dancing and playing instruments.

Psalm 149:3 “let them praise His name with dancing and make music to Him with the trimbel and the harp”.  I don’t know what a trimbel is but I know what a harp is.  And I know that we just got done with Nehemiah, where in Nehemiah 12, at the dedication of the wall they had two huge choirs dancing around the city with a ton of instruments praising the Lord.  We can also praise God by lifting up our holy hands by falling face down on the ground and on our knees again. Nehemiah 8:5-6, when Ezra opened the book, we saw that kind of worship where the people stood up and lifted their hands and then fell down in reference to God. And, you know, we can praise by clapping.

Psalm 47:1 says “clap your hands all the nations shout to God with cries of joy.” Now you’re not going to see me clap very much again that’s the whole carry the tune and rhythm in a bucket thing.  I just, I don’t have it.  Now if somebody’s beside me and they’re keeping good rhythm and I can cut my eyes and watch them then yeah, I’ll clap. But if I’m the only one clapping, it’s no rhythm to it. I just don’t have it.  But you we see children. I love this so much. This is just a great illustration. When I was in Ecuador, we were able to worship together with some of the locals and there were some little kids and those little kids went down front during the time of worship. The song, the singing, and they danced all over that sanctuary because they were so excited to be in the presence of God.

We gotta have joy and we gotta shout and we gotta worship because it’s contagious. If the world looks in and sees doom and gloom and sadness and joy-lessness. They can find that in the world.  They don’t need to come and be a part of our faith community.  But if they see something that’s different.  If they see something that’s exciting, something that’s worshipful, something that’s filled with joy and hope and excitement and enthusiasm, then they’re going to look at us and say how can you be this way? When the world seems to be falling apart? And here’s where we say, Jesus Christ.  We can have joy. We can have excitement. We can shout because of Jesus and that’s the motivation for our worship.

You know the method is this unapologetic, enthusiastic praise to God, but the motivation is God and God alone.  The motivation for our worship is God. Again. God created us to worship Him, to be excited about Him and we direct our worship back to Him.  You know God’s done a lot of things in my life and in your life but the most meaningful is He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins.  He loves us. He’s like our Father. He’s like our Shepherd.

Look at Psalm 100:3-5 again. “Know that the Lord is God.  It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His Name.  For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

God made you.  I want you to let that sink in. We are not the product of random chance or evolution.  We were created by a God who created the stars in the heavens and the Earth. He created everything.  And then He created us and then He breathed into us the breath of life.  Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Do you know that?  You know a lot of people struggle with who they are and what they look like, and they’re really self-conscious about it. Teenagers go through this a lot. You know their bodies are changing and they look in the mirror. They don’t like what they see, but I want you to be encouraged.  God did not make a mistake when He made you.  I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Joy of Painting and Bob Ross?  It’s a great show. It’s on YouTube. You should watch it.  When he would make a mistake, his phrase was “we don’t make mistakes, we make happy accidents.”  Well, he would take that happy accident and turn it into something beautiful. Well, here’s what I want you to tell. God doesn’t make mistakes and God doesn’t make happy accidents because God is happy with just the way He made you.  Every hair on your head. Everything about you was made by God for the glory of God.  So I don’t want you to be discouraged when you look in the mirror. I want you to remember that you are beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of God.

And then I want you know He’s your Shepherd, the Good Shepherd takes care of His sheep.  The Good Shepherd will lay down His life for the sheep. The Good Shepherd leaves 99 sheep and goes to search the one lost sheep. And that’s exactly what God did through Jesus.  He came to Earth. He sent His one and only Son and His Son lay down His life for you and for me.  And then Jesus goes and He searches out the one lost and there’s great rejoicing in heaven when one turns back to God.  That’s the motivation. That is why we worship because God loved us enough.  He was merciful enough. He was gracious enough that while we were still sinners, He died for us.

Romans 5:6 says, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

Wow. Wow.

That’s the motivation for worship.  We were lost sheep, we wandered off the path and the Shepherd came looking for us.  If that don’t get you excited, I don’t know what will. You know, 1 John 1:9 says, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us of our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  You know today, if you’ve never made that decision, you’ve never confessed your sins, then today’s the day that God is calling you to do that.  He’s saying, come to Me, bring Me your weariness, bring Me your burdens, bring Me your sins, bring Me your mess, and let Me clean it up.  And He is faithful and just to do that.  It’s a promise from His Word. His Word is perfect.

And so when we read this, we can we read God’s Word and we see what He has done for us, and that is why we can sing those wonderful songs. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.  It’s why we can stand and sing how great Thou art. It’s how we can sing ‘tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.  Because He is sweet.  He is great. And He is holy.  And He breathed into us the very breath that we breathe.  So let every breath that comes out of us bring honor and glory to Him. Now and forever.

Let’s pray together.

Father, I thank You for this time. I thank You for the Word of God. I thank You for teaching us how to worship and Who to worship. Father, we know that generations are watching us, they’re looking to us as examples of what it means to be a follower of Christ.  Father, may we show them how to worship.  May we show them Who to worship.  And may we show them why we worship.  Father, don’t let us be concerned with what others think. Don’t let us hold back our enthusiasm for You because You didn’t hold back Your grace and mercy from us.  We ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen and Amen.