11/16/14 Sermon: “The X Factor: Giving God His Worth”
For a video of this sermon, click here: http://youtu.be/TEyr1nfkLEo
1 Chronicles 29:10-18; Rev. 5:4-11 ?The X Factor: Giving God His Worth? Preached at LMPC by Dr. J. Ben Sloan
The scripture says, ?Worthy is the Lamb who was slain?for worship.? But on a cold Sunday morning, there is a part of me that says to myself, ?Worthy is the warm cozy bed I am in for sleeping.? I have already said with many of you, ?Worthy are many other things of my time and focus.? When I turned on the TV yesterday with my 300 some odd channels I said to myself- silently, ?What is worth watching??? What are the good football games on TV? What do I like?? The word ?Worship? comes from the Old English ?Worthyship.? Wall Street Journal had an article basied on a Labor Dept Survey on what Americans do when they are not working. The number one thing is sleep; 2) is TV- over 2 hours a day; 3) is socializing ? 45 minutes a day; recreation/sports/exercise- at about 19 minutes a day. Though 80% are members of a religious group- only 13% spend more than 15 minutes a day on average on charitable or religious activities. ???? We have changed the meaning of ?worth? in our society to ?What is worthy of my attention, or what do I like?? The TV people- whether it is AT&T, Time Warner or Direct TV will tell you that you are in charge. The Internet has a million choices for you to pick. You put the Apps on your phone and tablet that you like. There are a hundred extra curricular activities for you to do. Coming to worship God may be only one out of the many. But I would say this is one of the great problems of our society. We are out of balance. We are a society of ADD- Attention Deficit Disorder because there are so many choices and so many demands- that we lose focus. When you lose focus you lose direction, meaning, and hope. The God who made us and offers us eternal life is worthy of our attention and our gifts. He is the One who blesses us. I. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain- God is the One who gives for us. He not only designed the world. He came into it to rescue us from the evil and sins in the world- even our own sins. He is the shepherd who gave himself for his sheep. He is the shepherd who became the sacrificial lamb. ?? David knew God is worthy. When he was dying, he asked the people to give and they had accumulated great materials for the building of the Temple. He talked about how the people then had given so generously and sacrificially. Then he said these amazing words- that I believe speak to our day today vs. 18: ?Lord, God of our fathers, keep these desires in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.? David was exulting in God and knew the frail hearts of human beings- that we get distracted, pulled away, and make other gods and desires on our own- to the neglect of the One true God. ???? Jesus was not just another religious martyr according to the testimony of the saints. Rather He is the Lamb who was slain. He is as John the Baptist said, ?The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.? It is because He has come for us- it is because He has sacrificed for us that we bring our smaller sacrifices to Him. ???? For many, the question they ask is ?Is the church worthy of MY money.? That answer is always no. For one thing, no church is worthy. No church is worthy of doing holy things- because every church does holy things in a somewhat unholy way. When the Bible says ?all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.? That includes churches. All churches mess up and are not worthy of our time and our effort and our money. But that is not the point. It is the Lamb who gave Himself who is worthy. We pledge to Him- and the church is simply the unworthy people trying to follow Him as best we can. II. Worthy of our Praise- The three passages that I have picked out today are all doxologies. Doxa means Gloria- logia means saying/words. We give glorious words to God in gratitude. ???? Writers talk about getting a break as the X Factor. But the Bible speaks about the gracious hand of our God that helps us, that special something that causes you to be liked more than you should, that causes you to do better than you thought you could. When you know that it is not all up to luck or the X Factor- but up to God- then it helps you to feel confident. If you know and believe God blesses- that God gives you a break- that God helps you when you cannot help yourself- You can have less talent- but because God blesses you- you go beyond your talent. The Bible says ?He who honors me I will honor.? God is not a God who does nothing. God is a God who blesses. If we do not believe that God blesses or God cares- then our faith means so very little. Do you believe that God is personal, that He loves you, that He blesses you? If you do- then praise God- then give yourself to Him. Praise Him. Worship Him. There are people who will celebrate Thanksgiving not knowing who to thank. I think that is why Thanksgiving is shrinking. If you think there is no one to thank then you need to go shopping to reward and thank yourself. You need to work because it is all about you. Our reluctance to simplify our lives- to take a real break as a society- is a sign that we have forgotten how to focus and have forgotten how to thank. This year- if the whole world forgets to give thanks to God- don?t do it. ?????? The Bible says you can live worthy of God. ?Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called? (Ephesians 4:1). ?Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ? (Philippians 1:27). ?Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord? (Colossians 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:12). ???? You Can live worthy of God. You do that as you give God His worth- as you worship Him in what you do. ???? I have a friend who was going through a very hard time. He had a good job, had a house at the beach and the lake. But he had lost his health and because of that they had lost their job, and he was about to lose his house. They were about to lose their family. They had no sense of value. They said they felt worthless- useless- helpless. In the eyes of the world- he was probably right. But in the eyes of God He was worth everything. God made him, gave him life and time, and died for him because he was worth so much. Our self-worth should never be placed in the temporary that can be taken away with bad health or a bad break. Our self-worth is found in the worth of the God we worship. If we worship ourselves- if we see ourselves apart from God as the center of the universe, or worship our abilities- our science our know-how; or worship what we can get or do- our money or our work-our productivity- then we will feel useless if we get a bad break or we lose our money or our health. My point is this- find your self-worth in the One who is worthy of yourself- God. This person who had lost everything- gave themselves to God and they not only hung on until things got better, they learned to find hope in a hopeless situation. ?? Once we inherited some silver. We wanted to sell it and help our daughter with her bar exam costs. Some of the silver was tarnished and broken. We went to an expert to find out how much it was worth. Kay and I thought about polishing really hard to get the old tarnish off and trying to mend the broken pieces. But we found the silver was worth more as silver than it was worth as that kind of silverware. Someone would melt it down and reshape it into the kind of silver that was worth something. It didn?t matter how we felt about the worth of the silver, or what our neighbors felt about how much it should be worth- there was a standard that told us it was very valuable. God looks at you- and doesn?t see your tarnishes- your sin- your past mistakes and problems- your brokenness. Instead He sees your true worth- made in His image- loved by Him enough to send His Son to purchase you at His own extreme cost (his blood on the cross). Your worth is not determined by your tarnishes- it is determined by your Maker. So do not focus on your guilt- or try to hide or escape from it. Focus on God who is able to melt you, mold you, and shape you into a beautiful person.
III. Worthy of our Gifts- Thanksgiving is not just about words or just about time. One of the concrete ways we give thanks is by how we give. If you don?t have faith, it makes sense to give a dollar or two. With that kind of miniscule faith- the faith dies and the church dies. But when people believe- they respond. You have responded by building this beautiful children?s building. I can?t wait for you to see it. Last week I was talking to our new temporary accountant who is substituting for Laura Mars. He said, ?Your sanctuary is so beautiful.? I said, ?Have you ever been inside?? When he came inside I watched him as his eyes opened and mouth opened a bit- this sanctuary is far more beautiful on the inside. You know there are people who ride by our church who say, ?that church is so nice.??? But if you get inside- if you get involved- you will see how God has blessed us and we seek to be a blessing to Him. ???? There is an X factor- a secret factor in life that brings success It is the blessing and grace of God. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and he was helped when everyone else was flooded. Abraham left Ur with little and was blessed. Joseph was sold into slavery but found God?s blessing from God and from Pharaoh. He takes 12 ordinary men and changes the world with them. David wrote these words recorded in 2 Chronicles 29 at the end of his life. He was looking back and clearly saw with thanksgiving that God had seen him through so much. He went from a poor shepherd boy to a king. He went from a small boy to someone who defeated the giant. His own brothers thought he should stay home from even going to the fight. On the surface, there was no reason he could beat that giant, on the surface there was no way he could go from a shepherd boy to a king. But God is the X factor- the invisible ingredient to bring him help. If anything, God likes to lift up the lowly.?? ?He said with sincerity and experience- ?Honor and wealth come from you.? Can you join him in saying this? Can you give back to God in recognition that He has given to you? ?It is an act of faith that calls us beyond ourselves and the ordinary to the extraordinary worth of God.