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Pleasing God

1 John 1:5-10

 

"And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. [6] If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; [7] but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. [8] If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [10] If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." (NASB) 

There is a danger of equating worship with what we do during a service and church with what we do at a building.  Neither is true.  Please don't dismiss what I'm saying as a meaningless distinction, it isn't.  When we say that worshiping God is one of the five purposes for our lives, it would be easy to boil that purpose down to attending church, then check off the blank and say, "one purpose down, four more to go."  If we do that, we are making a huge mistake, because thee is so much more to worship than what we do during a service and so much more to church than what we do at a building.

In his book, Emerging Worship, Dan Kimball writes, "The average person is awake 112 hours a week (assuming he or she sleeps eight hours a night).  If a person goes to a weekend worship gathering that lasts two hours, then 98.2 percent of their week is not in a weekend worship gathering.  To most people, 'church' involves only 1.8 percent of their time.  The rest is supposedly not 'church.'  This is pretty crazy because in reality you and I and other Christians are the Church 100 percent of the time." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

Imagine what a victory it is for Satan for us to believe we are only the church 1.8 percent of the time.  I don't consider myself a poet, though I have published a few pieces over the years.  Around ten years ago, I wrote a piece entitled "Our God Remains," which illustrated Satan's strategies for hindering the spread of the gospel.  One stanza dealt with the lies he tells to the wealthy, another the way he deceives the down and out.  The third stanza focused on this very tendency some in the church have to limit worship to a building.  Let me read it to you: "The sheltered believers feed their souls,/enjoying their salvation./Huddled in their sacred shrines,/they study the power of God's might./Satan has paralyzed them,/imprisoning them in their own buildings./With their minds on the stories of old,/they miss the fields of white."

Our weekly gatherings are essential.  They are important enough that God shows up!  Matthew 18:20 says,  "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst." (NASB) Notice this is a conditional promise.  We must be gathered in His name, but if we come for the right reasons, He comes too. 

They are important because God shows up and they are important because we give and receive encouragement when we gather.  Hebrews 10:25 says, "not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near." (NASB) 

Our services are also important because they provide the opportunity for fellowship and instruction.  Acts 20:7 says, "And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight."  (NASB)   Though we prefer our preaching to end long before midnight, we are grateful for the ministry of the Word that takes place when we come together.

Our weekend gatherings are important, but they are not all there is to worship.  Worship is a lifestyle of pleasing God it is walking with Jesus.

John gives us instruction for lifestyle worship in the first chapter of his first Epistle.  Verse 7 says, " but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin."  John promises "fellowship with one another" if we walk in the light.  I suppose it would be correct to interpret the "one another" as our fellow believers.  In other words, real fellowship with believers is only possible if we are all walking with Jesus.  Certainly that interpretation makes a lot of sense.  But an alternate interpretation is also warranted.  If we are walking in the light, and Jesus is in the light, then wouldn't it make sense that the fellowship is between Jesus and us?  If that is correct, then John is teaching that it is possible for us to walk with God every day of our lives and feel His closeness daily.

Walking with Jesus is a grand definition of worship.  God created us to be in fellowship with Him and it pleases Him when we are.  But something stands in our way.  We cannot walk with Him if we live sinful lifestyles.  Verse 6 says, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;" John must have known some pretenders people who walk in darkness all week, yet act like their lives are all together on Sunday.  There's something very right about coming to Church on Sunday, even if you haven't lived an exemplary life during the week, but only if you are honest about it.  This is a place where people find healing and forgiveness, but they cannot if they don't admit their sinfulness.  John picks up on that theme in verse 8.  "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

Being real is essential for healing.  We must be real about our sinfulness and ourselves.  The only way we will ever get help for our sin is to admit we have it.  This is a universal truth.  The first step in any positive change is admitting we have a problem.   But knowing we have a problem isn't enough; we must be motivated to make the necessary changes in our behavior.  Verse 9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

This verse is key to understanding how someone with a dark heart can walk in the light with Jesus.  We often quote this verse to encourage people to pray the sinner's prayer and accept Christ as their Savior and Lord, but this verse is actually written to the believer and is encouraging her to continually confess her sins to God.  The confession here is not a one-time event, but a lifestyle.  We confess and continue to confess our sins to God and He forgives us and cleanses us.

God is pleased with us when we worship Him together at our weekly gatherings and He is pleased with us when we walk beside him throughout our week.  Neither is possible unless we confess our sins and are willing to receive the forgiveness and cleansing He offers.

Which leads me to ask you two questions: First, have you received His forgiveness?  Has there ever been a time in your life when you've asked God to forgive your sins and you've committed yourself to Him to live for Him the rest of your life?  If not, you can do so right now. Romans 10:9 says, "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;" (NASB) Do you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead?  If so, are you willing to confess that Jesus is your Lord in other words, will you turn control of your life over to Him?  If so, you're ready to accept Him today.

The second question I want to ask is, are your receiving His forgiveness?  After accepting Him as your Savior and Lord, are you living a lifestyle of repentance and confession.  Are you working as hard as you can to please God and follow in His will?  If not, you can begin that lifestyle today during this time of reflection.  Spend the next few moments confessing your sins to God and preparing to please Him all week long.
 

For information about The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren, go to: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0310205719/freshministry

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