Here is a sermon that I preached in October to the youth at Lakeland Baptist. I wanted to share it with each of you as well to get your commentary, thoughts and maybe inspire your hearts to draw closer to God today as you read this!!! Positive, Negative, indifferent commentary on my thoughts are welcome. Sources are sermons from John Piper, Matt Chandler, John MacArthur, and Writings from CS Lewis and Donald Miller.
Exchanging the Glory of God
Jeremiah 2: 11-13
..Worship is a Feast..- John Piper
Do you feel like that? Does your daily interaction, relationship and praise of God feel like a feast or a duty?
A feast says ..I delight myself in the Lord..(Psalm 37), a feast says .. God you are my God and I can..t get enough of you.. (Psalm 63), a feast says ..As a deer pants for water, so my soul pants for you.. (psalm 42)
John Piper explains that when worship is reduced to a feeling of duty, it ceases to be worship at all.
Approaching worship, approaching life’s journey with no interest in honoring God or with even the least bit of disinterest ruins one of the greatest pleasures we can have as people, an intimate, passionate, daily encounter with God.
One of the ways we approach Worship in a disinterested way is by settling for pleasures that are pitiful in comparison to an intimate journey with God.
Jeremiah in relaying a message from God to the people of Judah explained it this way as he referred to these pitiful pleasures to broken cisterns :
11″Has a nation changed gods
When they were not gods?
But My people have changed their glory
For that which does not profit.
12″Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
And shudder, be very desolate,” declares the LORD.
13″For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
That can hold no water
New Living- 11Has any nation ever exchanged its gods for another god, even though its gods are nothing? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols! 12The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay, says the LORD. 13For my people have done two evil things: They have forsaken me–the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!
CS Lewis said that .. we are halfhearted creatures fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased…
If your journey with God is at all like mine you have went through periods where walking with God felt like a feast, where there was nothing more that you wanted than to do life with God and to follow his will but then there were times when your heart and soul became disinterested, and you felt like you were just running through the motions doing church, talking about Jesus, throwing out the Christian clichés and church answers, but feeling inside like a fraud or even worse just doing church with no regard for returning to a passionate encounter with God.
Satan’s desire is just that, he wants us to become religious. He wants our relationship with God to become as habitual as brushing our teeth, checking our myspace and taking a shower.
Donald Miller in his book Blue Like Jazz confirms this idea by saying .. I believe that the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather to have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man’s mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God. I was into habit. I grew up going to church, so I got used to hearing about God. He was like Uncle Harry or Aunt Sally, except we didn’t have pictures…
– How true, the devil isn’t out to cause us all to be drug addicts or to have babies out of wedlock but he does desire to render us ineffective in effecting others with our passion for God.
I shared this last week but In Blue Like Jazz Donald Miller said he couldn’t love God because he hadn’t seen someone passionately love Him.
..I never liked Jazz music because jazz music didn’t resolve. But sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself.. I used to not like God but God didn’t resolve, but that was before any of this happened…
What changed? He encountered God personally and he saw people passionately living in fellowship with God. Not just people who followed a list of rules. But people who loved to talk about God, but also people who exhibited the love that God called us to show others.
We have become people who are more about following the ..rules.. of the Bible than experiencing God daily and acting on his greatest commandment to Love Him and to Love people. If we get this right, all other things will fall into to place, all other commandments hinge on this one. The Pharisees didn’t get this and I believe few of us do either.
How do we begin to get out of the rut of disinterest and move into a passionate daily encounter?
Begin the journey of focusing on living the great commandment
– Stop living as an extension of your parents faith- so many times students come to church to worship God and accept the things of God told to them by their parents and Sunday School teachers and never dig into God’s Word themselves and encounter God on their own. I truly believe the reason so many students neglect church after their high school years is they never experienced God outside of their parents and Sunday School teachers/ youth pastors faith. Once they are outside of those boundaries they truly have no ties to God and his church because all of their knowledge of God was third person. DIG INTO THE WORD YOURSELF, FALL IN LOVE WITH GOD YOURSELF, LET THOSE WHO ARE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST BE AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO YOU, BUT NOT YOUR ONLY LINK TO GOD, OR YOUR ONLY EXPOSURE TO GOD. THIS IS WHY QUIET TIMES ARE SO IMPORTANT, NOT SO YOU CAN PUT THEM ON A FORM FOR MARLA OR SAY YOU READ, BUT TO INTIMATELY DISCOVER GOD AND HIS CHARACTER. TO LOVE GOD, YOU MUST KNOW HIM. REALLY KNOW HIM.
– Love God, because he first loved you- The thing I love about God is that not only does he love us unconditionally, but he accepts us just as we are. Sometimes we try to measure ourselves up to this perfect idea of what we think a Christian should be and when we can’t measure up we feel extreme guilt and even hesitate to pray because we feel God may not even decide to listen to them anyway. So as we feel guilt, Satan wins as we move away from God because we feel God is far away and distant.
Truth- the Bible says that God is not far from each one of us and we know that God’s love is unconditional and is not based on our accomplishments or failures. He accepts us as we are. We should love Him because even as a just God, he shows us love in spite of our failures.
-Begin to quit viewing sinners as the enemy, but love them.-
Matt Chandler said.. I have to view sinners as my enemy. Isn’t that what we..ve been told all of our lives. We’re the good guys and they’re the bad guys,us verses them. But my homosexual friends don’t feel like the enemy to me. To be honest, they seem really lonely and angry. And I don’t think they’re a part of some underground movement to overthrow the government and destroy Christian marriages. Sometimes I feel like I should apologize for all the Christian morons they see on T.V. They don’t feel like the enemy. My bible tells me that my battle is never against flesh and blood, ever! The homosexual is not my enemy, the drunk is not my enemy, the artist is not my enemy, the drug dealer is not my enemy, the abortion doctor is not my enemy. All this war rhetoric is horrible! It’s not the rhetoric of Christ. He said, ..love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… Why is so hard us to see why they think we..re so judgmental and condemning? He is not my enemy. If it weren’t by the grace of God, I’d be him…
Take a minute and think about who Jesus reached to: Adulterers, Tax Collectors, Prostitutes, Beggars, Lepers, the Sick, Christian killers, he loved them all. He didn’t see them as the enemy, he saw them as people who were hurting and needed grace; just like you, just like me.
What broken cisterns, or worldy pleasures are you exchanging for a true worship relationship with God?
What stage are you at in your journey? Duty? Passionate intimacy, somewhere in between? Ask God to show you how to move forward. No relationship?? Maybe today, you see the amazing character of who God is and he is calling you into relationship with him, and adopting you into his family. Praise God for that, he is making you brand new.
Will you commit today to make your faith your own, to dive into an intimate relationship with Christ? Will you accept Christ’s grace on a daily basis and live in his comforting arms? Will you begin to love people so that people can see your passion and might by some chance see a glimpse of who God is through you?