Sermon December 26, 2010: True worship

Posted in Sermons
[Gregory Bishop (right) with Roberto Miranda]
  • Presenter: Gregory Bishop
  • Date: December 26, 2010
  • Location: Congregación León de Judá, Boston MA

God put something on my heart for this morning, and it just works in perfectly with what the kids did today. It has to do with some of our fundamental calling as church, our core of who we are, our identity.

What does the name Judah mean, you know, we’re Lion of Judah, anyone knows what Judah means? Now, you don’t have to shout it out. We ‘re not in discipleship but if you know what it means you can nod so that I know. It means praise. Judah means praise, because when he was born, Judah, back in the Old Testament his mother said, “Finally this time I’m just going to praise the Lord”.

And our calling as a church is summed up in many ways in our name. the lion is a kingly warfare image and we are called to interact that as a church for spiritual warfare, but we’re called to do so through praise and worship. Each one of us has that calling. And in the Christmas story we see the concept of worship woven and laced throughout all the stories.

So, open with me please to Mathew, chapter 2. Why don’t we do it, read it in Spanish and just if you could put in English, Mathew 2:1 through 12 so English speakers you read what’s there.

Father, in the name of Jesus, there is something in the hearts of these kings that you want us to have also. So, Lord give us that heart, the heart of a worshiper in spirit and in truth, that marks a new époque in our lives and as a congregation, we pray Lord, to give you the truth that you deserve, in the name of our Lord Jesus. Amen.

The kings came to worship; it says that twice, right? That’s why they came. If you read the Christmas stories, you see the theme of praise and worship in all of them. At the very beginning when Zachariah, the priest, the father of John the Baptist was offering his sacrifice, outside the temple there were hundreds of worshipers prostrate, worshiping and praying while he did the sacrifice.
It was during that worship that the angel appeared. If you look at the very end of the story and you think of Simeon and Ana who saw Jesus when he was being offered at the temple, what did they spend their time doing in the temple these two older people?

They spent day and night worshiping and praying in the temple, and when Simon saw the baby, he took it in his arms and he looked at that baby and he said, “God, I’m done”. He blessed the Lord and said, “You can take me home now. I’m ready to die, I’ve seen Jesus.”

I know people like that, but we’ll come back around to that. There is another place of worship. There is a person who was not even yet born who worshipped during the Christmas story. He was still in the womb, right? You know what I’m talking about? Mary shows up visiting her cousin, Elizabeth. She walks in the house, “hey, I’m here.” And the minute Elizabeth hears her voice, she’s filled with the Holy Spirit and the baby just leaps in her womb.

My Noah was a leaper. You could get up alongside Kenny when she was pregnant and you could feel it woo… Noah would kick so hard you could it feel it just standing next to her.

John, the Baptist, in vitro was leaping in worship. May God give us a leaping heart. When you enter into worship if you had this happen, you come in and something inside you just leaps up. It’s your spirit recognizing the one who made it.

I tell you, my favorite moment of any day, is the moment when I see Noah and Caris and I haven’t seen him in a while, and they just come running like little loquitos, and they just run, run, run and poor Caris, her face comes to right about here, and she always… I got all my keys and my cell phone right there never fell, she slams right into it, but it doesn’t stop her. And there’s that feeling of a leaping recognition, I haven’t seen you and I see you again. May God give us the heart to shelter, that when we come into worship something inside says, “Daddy, Aba, I love you, I see you again.”

Oh, may we be a child of God, child like congregation. You know, the word for that leaping delight and then Elizabeth, she shouts out in a loud voice, there’s a word in Hebrew called gail. You can’t even hear the sound of a…. just say it, you feel like gail, you know.

The name of Abigail comes from that, right? Gail means to freak out happy. It means you’re screaming, you’re yelling, you’re happy. So just a little side note but I’m not going to charge you for. Abigail is from abi, my father, my daddy, gail shouts for joy. My daddy shouts for joy, praise the Lord. Praise that my father is joyful, and we are to be like that.

The Bible says, “God will rejoice over you with singing.” as we rejoice in his presence, he rejoices in ours. You know, being childlike, I think of the kids, you know, we saw the kids do that spectacular presentation. Some of these kids really kill me. I can’t believe she got some boys to do that, I mean, totally controlled them. Oh man, it was spectacular!

So that was a controlled beautifully crafter offering to the Lord. And then, there’s also childlike worship, when we push the chairs out of the way, and they jump around like a bunch of chivos, like a bunch of little monkeys, they just go berserk in God’s presence. May God give us the heart of children, that worship, that freedom.

But, you know, you can’t psyche yourself into it. It’s got to be real. And there’s another element besides that exterior celebration. And while I’m telling kids stories, my son Noah, I’ll never forget, every now and then gets a certain look in his eyes. I’ll never forget seeing him when he was one and a half and we brought him to the aquarium, and of course, he’s happy, he goes up and sticks his nose against that disgusting glass and he’s looking at the fish and I looked down and I see this look in his eyes. It’s almost like he was there and he was elsewhere. And I thought, I am looking at genuine unadulterated wonder that comes out of a person’s soul. Of course, it doesn’t usually last long, right? When you’re 2.

But I saw the same look at the fireworks on July 4th. I saw it a couple of weeks ago. There’s a guy in I wanna, the children’s program, who dresses up like a lion, God bless him. Maybe he’ll visit a Sunday service some day. He came to visit the 2 and the 3 and 4 year old, and I was spying, right? And I saw Noah go up to him and his looking up and he’s got that look.

You know, there’s joy but mixed with just a little bit of fear. This thing is a lion, I’m not completely sure he won’t eat me, and it makes it more interesting. You know, I once started teaching, and I said, Noah, you know, there’s nothing fun about being in scary things. I was trying to teach him why Halloween we don’t do that, and he looked at me and said, well, daddy, it’s a little bit fun to be scared. I had to give him that. Well, you know, there’s nothing scarier than God.

Chronicles of Narnia, the lion and the kids in the story said, “Ah, a lion!” is he safe? And the other kid says, “Of course, not”. He’s a lion. He’s not tamed but he’s good.

When we worship we worship the lion of the tribe of Judah. We worship an awesome, majestic. This is not to be played with, this is not to be taken lightly, but he’s good and let God give us that heart of wonders.

You know, the disciples when they were with Jesus, sometimes they were comfortable with him and they would talk freely, but one day he fell asleep in the back of the boat. Remember what happens? A storm went down. The disciples are freaking out. “Jesus, don’t you hear that we’re about to die?” And I love it, Jesus waking up, sort of rubbing the sleep off. He’s like, what’s going on? And he said, “Oh, storm, be still!”

The Bible says that the disciples were afraid of the storm, but the text is very clear to clarify that they were terrified of Jesus. After this miracle they were like, what is in the boat with us, my God? And you could almost crowd over the other side and just look at him.

May God give us that sense of wonder and fear. At resurrection they worshipped Jesus, they had questions filled with wonder. In the book of Acts, it says, with the miracles of the Apostles everyone was filled with a sense of awe. The literal Greek is fear.

In the song that says, worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. You know, I have a friend who was at a conference in Kansas City once, and visited a church that moves a lot in the prophetic. And the pastor said, we’re going to take a minute, I’m going to pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal the fear of the Lord here. Silence, nothing else, and this friend of mine says that all he could do for about 90 seconds, was lay on the floor face down and plead with God not to kill him. Utter fear.

Now, that’s an extreme moment, but a little taste of it is good for us. It adds weightiness to our coming together and worship him. We can be like children who climb on the lion and play with his mane and we thank God that he’s roaring the bad guys and not us. And when Satan attacks or people who want to persecute, we don’t have to be afraid of them because we know a God that is much scarier, and he’s on our side.

The three Kings are Magi understood this fear and reverence. They knew a great king is being born and they came to worship that king. They didn’t come to dote on a little baby; they came to pay tribute to a new ruler, who they knew had authority much greater than theirs.

You know, there are many words in the Bible, New Testament and Old Testament, for worship. I talked about this in the morning. You know, the Eskimos I hear, they have like twenty words for the word snow. They have a word for squeeze snow. They have word for puffy blowing snow, a word for crusty snow. Why so many words for snow? Perhaps it’s a big part of their lives.

I challenge you to google the word worship, words for worship in the New Testament in Greek and in Hebrew and in the Old Testament. You will see page after page of words for worship. Why would that be? Because maybe it was the stuff of their lives. Because worship for the Christian is like breathing. Worship is to be the center around which everything we are and do revolves.

But for these kings they used the same words three times for worship. It’s the Greek word proscuneo and it implies a falling down on your knees or on your face and paying tribute to a great king. It means abasing yourself to exalt the one who is greater than you.

Psalm 2, if you take your Bible, take a look. It describes very well what this is. It says, why do the nations conspire and the people plot in vain. They kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his anointed one. Let us break their chain, they say, and throw off their feathers. The Bible says, the one enthroned in heaven laughs. He scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, I have installed my king on Zion, my holy hill. And it says, I will proclaim the decree of the Lord. He said to me, you are my son. Today I have become your Father.

You know the phrase Son of God? Of course it means that Jesus is the divine, right? I have a son and he’s human, right? Unless you’re doing some weird science fiction movie, it’s going to be human. But the phrase Son of God in the Bible, also implies King. The king was called the Son of God. So when Jesus is baptized and the voice comes from heaven and says, “This is my Son”, of course he’s also saying, “This is my King, the King, the Christ I’ve installed. Listen to him.”

So, below it says, ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery. Therefore, you kings be wise, be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, less he be angry or you’ll be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flair up in a moment. Blessed are all those who take refuge in him.

The kings in Mathew are right out of Psalm 2. they know there’s a new King. He’ll be a king you can’t kill. He’s going to be a king who will take over the world, and I really want to be on his side. So, they come and they fall down on their knees before this baby.

And it’s the same word used in the book of Revelations, where it talks about all the angels and the elders seated on thrones around the central throne of God. It says, they fall down on their knees and they throw their crowns down before the King and they say, praise and glory and wisdom and thanks, and honor, and power, and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Proscuneo.
We’ve been praying for revival for a long time for the Kingdom of God to come upon us. As that kingdom comes, as we worship and the veil is removed and we see Jesus in his kingly majesty, that’s the time to get on our knees and throw down our own crowns and say all glory and honor belongs to you.

When we worship, we declare, You are the King. You’re the King of my life and you’re the King of this world and you’re taking over.

Now, just a side note about this. The three kings that came to worship Jesus they weren’t all from the same country, were they? They weren’t all Chapin, or Boricua. We had a king from different countries, right? We had a little United Nations meeting right there. That’s prophetic. God says, all the nations will come and worship at the feet of his savior, of his Christ.
Now, this is particularly relevant for us. Look around; is there any row that doesn’t have at least 3 or 4 countries represented in it? Just think about it. Of course, maybe you’re sitting next to your spouse or your son. With our English ministry things are getting even spicier. We counted between the Spanish speaking and the English people, we’re over 30 countries right now. And the Bible says that this is a prophetic sign, because when people from different countries come together to worship the King, like those kings of the time of Jesus, they’re making a statement. They’re saying, there’s a new kingdom among us. They say, before being a gringo, I’m a citizen of that new kingdom. We’re saying that something new has invaded human existence. And the key to it I believe, worship.

You know the text on Revelation where the people are standing before the throne and they say, with you blood you purchased men for God, from every tribe and language, and people and nations, you have made them to be a kingdom. We got a new kingdom here and we’re taking over, because the king has come.

But it doesn’t stop there, it says, to be a kingdom and priests. What does a priest do? A priest mediates worship. Worship is the key. After this text it says that there’s of thousands and tenths of thousands and they encircle the throne and they sing in a loud voice saying, the lamb is worth it.

What can keep a church with 30 nations represented together? A good organization? Maybe an idealistic vision of, well, we should all of us be happy together. None of that. It’s not about an organization; it’s about being an organism. It’s not about having high ideals. It’s about having common experience of worshiping a common king. That’s what brought the three kings together. And it is what will bring us together and keep us together.

You know, revival has been famous for that throughout the centuries. When the spirit moves people sing, people worship, and people who normally don’t hang out together become friends.
They were scandalized as they would do the spirit revival,1906 in Los Angeles, that black people and white people actually worshipped together. Scandal! It was the power of the Holy Spirit. It was worship saying that the King of Kings has come. And God has called us to do that; to make sure that when we worship we’re saying that one day every knee will bow and every tongue in heaven and on earth, and under the earth will declare that Jesus….. for the glory of the Father. That’s our calling. Let it be sincere.

You know, not all worship is sincere. In the story of the kings here, they weren’t all good kings. You should really read the story of the four kings, right? The 3 good guys and the unspeakably bad guy. One of the most chilling verses in the Bible, King Herod, part Jewish, probably with a gracious smile on his face. Please when you find the baby let me know so that I can also come and worship him. Not all worship is the same.

Jesus said about the Pharisees, he said; in vain these people worship me. They’re religious but they’re hypocrites. In the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah, the one where God says, look, I have just had it with all your religious festivals and sacrifices. Just give me a break from your worship. Learn to do right, show mercy to the poor and the orphan. Learn to tell the truth, learn to worship with your life and not just your mouth.

New Testament worship, it calls us to offer our whole body as a living sacrifice, holly and acceptable to God and that’s your spiritual act of worship. There is no line between the physical and the spiritual. God gave you a body. It’s good, so use it for good purposes.

You know, the symbol when you raise your hands, why we do that? Did anyone find that a little bit weird when you were new? Let’s be honest. I went to a Pentecostal church when I was a new believer, and I thought, I like the sermon but all that singing and hand waving. What does raising your hand mean nowadays? It means, see, no gun. You can arrest, I’m not going to fight back. Just take me, just don’t shoot. It meant the same thing back then, folks: surrender. That’s why it’s so hard to do at first. It means surrendering. It means saying, God, I lay down my weapons. I’ve tried it my way and it hasn’t worked. I’m ready to be taken as your prisoner.
There was a woman in the New Testament who worshipped with her whole body. Jesus was having dinner with a Pharisee, a religious leader; they’re having a nice dinner. This woman from the street with that street attitude, says, I’m getting in there and I’m going to see Jesus. She gets through the multitude at the front door, she barges in where they were and she gets down on her knees, she weeps on Jesus’ feet.

You know, we talked about how sometimes Kleenex should be our church symbol. It’s not because we’re in mourning, but just cause all that pain is just washing out. Did you ever have that happen?

You’re in church and just suddenly there are tears and you don’t know where they’re coming from? It’s like pain is just washing out of you through the eyes. This woman just started to let it all wash out over Jesus. I don’t think there were ushers there to pass out the Kleenex. This was messy, she’s using here hair and she’s washing them. The Pharisees are scandalized. How can Jesus let this woman from the street touch him? And Jesus just, I can just visualize him taking her chin, I’m making this up of course, but taking her chin and looking her in the eye and just looking and saying, don’t worry about that. Don’t look at them. She said, you have no idea what you’ve just done; you’ve anointed me for my burring. Your sins are forgiven. Listen, look at me, your sins are forgiven. I could see those words going just into her soul.

She was not passive, she was sincere and she was focused, and she was committed and determined to worship Jesus. And so were the kings. You know, the kings were wealthy, powerful men, but they had the same heart.

I just visualize powerful, wealthy men but with a childlike eye, and who had that same passion, that same obsession to find this king. We kidded in the morning about the word obsession, not usually a good word, right? It means you need to relax. But you know? Jesus can be our magnificent obsession. Let him become someone you’re addicted to, like that teenager madly in love who says, I got to see him, I can’t stay away. Like the psalm that says: when can I go, my hunger, my heart thirsts for God, my body longs for God, when can I go and meet with God. That’s why you pushed through the snow today. It wasn’t for any other reason, why did you come today? Because I want to be near God. I want to worship Jesus today. That’s why you come together. That’s our obsession.

You know, our musicians, this is just another gig for them. God has given us worshippers here, talented, gifted, with an obsessed heart to worship the living God and we are a kingdom of priests. We are the worship team.

Now, this is something that needs to be cultivated. You know, even though this is the most natural thing a person can do. What are we going to do in heaven all those years? I believe a new heaven and a new earth, there’s going to be a lot of action. I don’t believe we’re going to be the sort of floating around, but I do believe the focus will be worshipping.

The one who will replace the sun, we won’t need the sun, because the glow of the shekina glory will be our light. You were made to worship God but just because it’s natural, doesn’t means it comes natural. Is it natural to eat? How many of us know how difficult it is to get a 2 or 3−year old to eat their dinner?

Worship needs to be cultivated. Sometimes you’re not going to feel like it. Sometimes you’re going to feel nasty, mean, sleepy, you’ll wake up not feeling like a Christian some Sunday morning. Those are the morning we choose to worship.

You know, yesterday morning we put out some gifts under the tree, right? They woke up and we said, stay upstairs a little while, Santa Claus still needs to come. Santa Claus needs a cup of coffee. They know it’s just a game, so, we put the gifts, and the kids come down we’re waiting fully excited, right? And Caris, my one a half year old daughter, who knows what she wants in life, comes and we have all the presents, she goes right to the cookies. We’re like, hey, there’s presents here. We took a long time to wrap them, and we had to like convince her to open them and then of course she had more fun with the wrapping paper than with the present…. But could she know that this is fun?

You know, worship is something that needs to be unwrapped sometimes. The Bible says, taste and see that the Lord is good. There’s nothing more delicious than tasting the sweetness of the Holy Spirit. But that isn’t an acquired taste. It’s something that we need to cultivate.

My son, one more Noah’s story, I’m sorry…. Leave you alone with the… I’m sorry, I’m on… We were playing outside. Outside in the Fall when there’re leaves out and we’re visiting my parents, where they have woods and trees outside, and I break up a big pile of leaves, and I go outside with Noah, and I say: Ok, you can play on the leaves, he’s just two. And he just looks at me like, Excuse me? Why would I want to do this? So, I shook him and I kind of threw him in, and he lay there looking around like, I’m sure I like this. But then his face changed and he realized, this is going to be fun. And now he just runs and jumps.

God has prepared the table before us. He’s prepared the leaves pile. We don’t know how much fun it is. They joy of experiencing worship. Now, it’s going to de different for each person. You know, worship sometimes can be loud, deafening loud. You read some psalm and you get the feeling the Hebrews knew how to make a lot of noise.

But you know, when the Bible worship is often silence. Sometimes silence can be more full of worship than the loudest song we sang. It’s good to be different at different times. Sometimes we’re going to compose things of exquisite beauty to glorify God. The Christmas service last week. How about that? How about the one person after the other singing like: are these professionals? No, they’re just our people and the beautiful dance. Some of the most exquisitely, beautiful things that humanity has made in history were made for the glory of God.

You heard of Johan Sebastian Bach, right? At the bottom of every musical composition he put three letters: SDG and that means in Latin, only to God the glory.

You know, sometimes God is going to raise a people in this church to do beautiful things for God’s glory, to write beautiful poetry for the glory of God; to play amazing skills for the glory of God; to paint for God’s glory, people to build buildings for God’s glory. We will worship God with excellence.
But sometimes worship can be messy though. And David danced before the Lord, I tell you this, it wasn’t ballet. He ….. down to …. And just jumped around like a crazy boy, but he says, I did this before the Lord and I will abase myself even for his glory.

There are different kinds of worship. What matters is that we do it in every place and in every way. We write on every moment of our lives SDG, only for God’s the glory. God has called us to worship. He’s spoken to us prophetically about the worship call.

You remember that prayer meeting two months ago? When a sister who hardly every participates publicly, God gave her a humming song, it was spirit talking to spirit. And there was a prophetic word and the prophesy said, God was saying, I will enter you into a new type of worship here. I want to say yes to that.

And I’ll close with this final story. You know, the Bible says that when we worship God, when we behold his glory, we reflect that glory, kind of like Moses, up on the mountain. He came down and he was glowing so much that people were afraid of him.

I want to share a story and I have permission from a family to share this with us. A woman was approaching death, the doctors said this might be it today, and the daughter called me to pray with her, and she knows perfectly well that she could have prayed with her, but she wanted me to be there. So I went in and this was a grandmother who clearly had had to fight during her life. Also during her life you could tell she had to struggle to survive. You know, those matriarchs who just suffered for their families, and she was very uncomfortable and very serious, and she didn’t answer any of my questions, she didn’t talk to me at all.

And I asked her, would you like to pray to receive Jesus? And she just nodded a little. And so I started a prayer, expecting her maybe just to nod along with me, and I said, Lord Jesus, and I heard a voice that said, Lord Jesus. It was the first words she had said, as if she was “I’m not going to waste my energy on you; I’m going to use my last breath for God, ok?” So we did the prayer and I came back and you know many of our grandmothers among us, she got a little better and went back and we could interact a little bit and she clearly, sincerely was putting her faith in the Lord.

And now she’s in a nursing home where she’s still ill but she’s all right and I swear, I go in the room, and her face is glowing and there is a big smile and a soft look. And it was beauty shining out of her. Her room mate says in the middle of the night she hears her singing songs. You know what her name is? Luz. Light. Her name is light.

I’ve seen that when we worship we open our hearts to God, the glory of God is reflected from us. May we be a congregation of worshippers who worship in spirit and in truth. Let it be real. I’m going to invite you to stand with me and we’ll just close in prayers and transition to the Lord.

Sermon delivered by Gregory Bishop on December 26, 2010 at Congregación León de Judá Oir | Ver (100K) | Ver (350K) | Ver (1200K)

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Greg, thank you for this heart-warming sermon and a great reminder of the love of God through all facets of life, and in every breath we take. Wish a great year to you all!

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