Planned for God’s Pleasure
So we’ve been asking the question: “what on earth am I here for?” and last week we kicked off by asking that question and we discovered that God created us to love us, and that we were created to be eternal beings, and that we were made to find our purpose IN God. That to me is a huge weight off, because instead of thinking that you have to come up with something enormous and impressive, you just need to have your being in God! In Acts 17:28 it says “ In Him we live and move and have our being.”
This week we are going to start unpacking 5 purposes that God made us for, and the first purpose that we are looking at is that God created us for His pleasure.
Revelation 4:12 “You, God, created everything and it is for Your pleasure that they exist and were created.” Circle “for Your pleasure.” The Bible says you were created for God’s enjoyment. God made you just to enjoy you. God planned you for His purpose. The only reason that you’re alive is God wanted you alive and He gets enjoyment out of watching you.
How many of you are parents? Do you enjoy watching your kids? Most of the time! I get such a buzz watching my kids, especially when they are playing together in some made-up activity and they are oblivious to me. I just want to squeeze their little cheeks! And I think the same thing is true with God. Most of the time He enjoys watching you be you. You were made for God’s pleasure.
Last week we talked about how you were created to be loved by God. This week we’re looking at the flip side.
The first purpose of your life which is God wants you to love Him back. He wants you to bring enjoyment back to Him. As much as He has created you, He wants you to love Him back.
One day Jesus was walking down the street and guy comes up and says, “Lord, what’s the most important command in the entire Bible?” Jesus said, the most important thing – If you don’t get anything else, get this. This will summarize the whole Bible. Matthew 22 “Love the Lord your God. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Circle “first and greatest.” God says if you don’t get anything else here’s what you’re supposed to do in life. You’re supposed to learn to love Me back because I made you to love you and know you and I want you to know and love Me back.
There’s a word for this. It’s a word that we misunderstand so a lot of people don’t use it. It’s the word “worship.”
Worship is knowing and loving God back.
The problem is worship is misunderstood today. When I say the word “worship” what do you think of? You may think of prayer. You may think of singing. You may think of ritual or or scented candles, or communion or going to church. Worship is far, far more than all those things.
Probably the best verse that defines worship in the Bible – your very first purpose – is Romans 12:1 “Because of God’s great mercy to us, offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer.” Circle “because,” “offer,” and “offer.” This is what worship is all about.
I do want to point out two things:
- Worship is my response to God’s love. Worship is the way I react, I respond to God when He loves me. That’s what worship is. Notice it says, “Because of God’s great mercy,” His love to us, then we worship Him back. In this case God takes the initiative. God always makes the first move. God never asks you to make the first move. He always makes the first move. And He creates us, He saves us, He forgives us, He blesses us, He protects us. All of these things. Because of all these things we worship.
- Notice what we do. We offer. That word describes worship. Worship is giving back to God. He gives to us and we give back to Him. Whenever you give back to God, whenever you offer anything to God, that’s called worship. And that brings pleasure to God. It brings enjoyment to God. When your kids are grateful to you as a parent, that brings pleasure to you. When we’re grateful to our heavenly Father, that brings pleasure to Him.
The question is when it says “offer”, what am I supposed to offer? What do you give a God who’s got everything? You think finding Christmas gifts for some people is hard, what do you give a God whose got everything? He made the world, He made you, He made the universe. What do you give Him?
You give Him your love. And He’s very specific how you give it.
Mark 12 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.”
PP9 God wants me to love Him three ways:
- First, God wants me to love Him thoughtfully. It says “love Him with your mind.” Thoughtfully. In other words, He wants you to think through. Not just do it without thinking. He wants you to worship Him thoughtfully. Know and love Him thoughtfully.
- Second, God wants me to love Him passionately. He says “With all your heart and with all your soul.” I want you to love Me passionately. Because He passionately loves you.
- Three, I want you to love Me practically. “Love Me with all your strength.” Your abilities.
Whenever we take what God has given us – of course all those things He gave you first. You have the ability to have attention, you have affection, you have strength and ability because God gave them to you. Whenever you take the things God has given you and give them back to God that is the heart of worship.
Worshipping God is our first purpose, so how do we do it?
- Worship is focusing my attention on God.
It’s focusing my mind, my thoughts, my attention on God. In a lot of religions the idea of worship is to put your mind into neutral. Sort of lose your mind to the universe. But the truth is God wants us to worship Him thoughtfully. It takes energy. It takes putting our mind, focused, on God. Not just going through the motions but really thinking about it which isn’t always easy to do.
Have you ever prayed on autopilot? Talk about your prayers in the morning- you start Dear God, then after a sentence your thinking I wonder if I put the bins out? What’s for breakfast? I need to pay that bill… Do you ever zone out in church? Not when I’m speaking, but sometimes? That reminds us that it takes energy and attention to focus on God. Could talk about when I’m asking jack a question and he makes up answers as if he’s been listening.
You know why God wants your focus? God wants your focus because He is focused on you.
Psalm 139:1-3 “You have looked deep into my heart, Lord and You know all about me. You know when I am resting or when I am working. You notice everything I do and everywhere I go.” God has focused His attention on you. God pays constant attention to you. He never takes His eyes off of you. He never stops thinking about you. The reason is He made you was to love you. He made you to give you this attention. The greatest expression of love is often that attention.
This is a typical response we can hear from a hard-working father: “My wife, my kids, they say I don’t love them. But I do things for them. I work everyday for them. Why don’t they feel loved by me?” Because they want your attention. Attention is an incredible expression of love. God puts His attention constantly on us.
Remember the first time you fell in love? You couldn’t get that person off your mind. You thought about them when you woke up in the morning. You thought about them all through recess. You thought about them all day long. Anything anyone says, you find a way that ties back in with that person. “that song that’s playing right now? That’s Christie’s favourite song!” “You like pineapple? Christie LOVES pineapple!” That’s an infatuation for us sometimes for us and it wears off.
But God, the Bible tells us, His love for us is eternal. He is always focused on us and He wants to teach us to focus our heart and our attention on Him. That’s difficult sometimes. It is difficult to focus on God. Honestly, the easiest thing to do in life for us as human beings is to lose our focus. We’re not like one of those auto focus cameras you might have. You point it at something and it focuses. We have to decide to focus. We have to choose to focus on things.
How do you do that? We have to realize first of all that we are very easily distractible. There are two things that distract us from focusing our attention on God. First, we’re self-centered by nature. Second, we live in self-centered culture.
Romans 8:7 says, “Focusing on yourself is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God and ends up thinking more about self than God.” So we have to decide to focus on Him.
Romans 12:2 “Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God.” We must choose. Choose to stop thinking about some things and start thinking about God. How do you do that?
- First of all you can do that by establishing a daily time with God. Just a few minutes during the day. The Bible talks about that in Matthew 6:6 when it says
“Find a quiet secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God and you’ll begin to sense His grace.”
Circle “place”. You’ve got to find place to do this. In the Old Testament there was only one place where you could worship God. It was called the Temple. You had to make journey there to worship God and focus on God. That is not true anymore. You can worship God anywhere. You just find a place. Your car on the way to work, someplace in your backyard, a corner of your living room where you can focus on God.
Circle also “simply.” Just be with God simply. No ceremony, no fancy words. Just there with Him talking with Him.
Circle “honestly.” Just be yourself. I want to relieve some of you from some pressure. Don’t try to be spiritual. It doesn’t work anyway. You end up not looking consecrated but constipated when you try to look spiritual. The truth is you don’t have to try to look spiritual. You just have to try to get to know God better. He’ll take care of the making you look spiritual side of things. Just be with Him honestly.
There’s a second thing you can do to focus on God
- Develop constant conversation with God.
The Bible tells us in Psalm 105:4 “Worship Him continually.” Think about Him throughout the day. You have to decide to do that. Sometimes you need reminding. That’s why I love the Bible app so much, as it gives me little notifications every day “oh, yeah, I need to read the bible!”
The Bible tells us in Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, whose thoughts are fixed on You.” When you focus on yourself the inevitable result is thoughts of worry, insecurity, anxiety, guilt, fear, discouragement. But when that focus shifts from me to God, from you to God, all of a sudden you begin to sense gratitude and hope and confidence and love.
Not only is worship focusing my attention on God…
- Worship is also expressing my affection to God.
This is loving God with your heart and soul. For some of you this is kind of difficult because you grew up in families that weren’t real affectionate, weren’t real expressive, didn’t say, “I love you,” a lot. Maybe you’re kind of the silent type. So it’s not real easy for you to express affection to God without feeling weird or kind of kooky about it. You’re going to have to learn, how to grow, how to develop, how to say, “I love You,” to God.
Remember the first time you ever said I love you to somebody? It probably scared you to death. You’re palms were sweating, your stomach was in a knot. You were nervous – are they going to accept it or are they going to reject it? You were worried, Are they going to say it back to me? Remember in high school kids would find out if someone liked them before they’d declare their interest? They’d send out a friend to ask, “Do you know if so and so likes so and so?” You check it out. You’re not going to walk up there and lay it on the line – “You are cool!” No, you’re going to wait and find out if they think you’re cool first. It’s risky to say I love you.
But the neat thing about God is He’s taken away the risk. He’s said it first! Lucky for us he’s not interested in being cool, in fact he’s hot! God said it first to you. God’s said, I love you. God has said it in a thousand ways. He created you. He’s taken care of you even when you didn’t know it He was showing love to you. God has said over and over to you, I love you. So you don’t have to worry about whose going to say it first.
The Bible says, “We love Him because He first loved us.” In many religions God is this angry tyrant and you have to appease God and avoid God and run from God and be afraid of God. That’s not the real God. The Bible says God wants to be loved. Have you ever said I love you to God? God wants that from you.
Hosea 6, God says, “I don’t want your sacrifices. I want your love. I don’t want your offerings. I want you to know Me.” Circle “love” and “know.” That is the first purpose of your life – to know and love God. If you get that done you’ve accomplished the most important thing in life. God wants you to know Him and love Him. Because you were made to be known and loved by God.
The most important thing you can know in life is that God loves you. And the most important thing you can do in life is love Him back. It’s not about how much you can accomplish, how much you can knock off your to-do list. That stuff won’t matter in the bigger scheme of things.
Exodus 30:4 “He is the God who is passionate about His relationship with you.” Circle “passionate.” God is passionate about you. He longs to know you. He longs for you to know Him. He longs passionately for you to have a relationship with Him.
How about if I walked up to my wife one day and say, “Here are some flowers for you. I’m giving you these flowers for three strategic reasons. Point one, I am your husband. Point two, it is our anniversary. Point three, husbands are supposed to give their wives flowers on their anniversary. So here.” Wouldn’t she be thrilled? I don’t think so! Why? Because she wants me to love her passionately. She doesn’t want duty. She wants desire.
God doesn’t want your duty. He wants your desire. God doesn’t want you thinking, “Ok! I’d better go worship! I love You, God.” God doesn’t want duty. He doesn’t want ritual and religion and rules and regulation. He wants a relationship. And He’s passionate about it. He wants you to love Him as much as He loves you because He made you and He created you.
Again, this is hard for some of you because you’re not naturally expressive people. How can I express affection to God? If you’ve never done it before let me tell you how to get started. Start by just saying, “Thank You.” Look around and everything you look at start thanking God for, “God, thank You for a beautiful sky today. That’s gorgeous. God, thank You for green trees. Thank You for clean air. Thank You that I’m still breathing. Thank You that I live in Australia and I have freedom.
The greatest way to express affection to God is by giving your life to Him, by yielding yourself to Him. When you do a wedding and you see two people stand up in front of each other and do these things called vows and say, “I do.” What were they doing? They were saying, I give you my life. I surrender myself to you. I’m committing myself to you. Why? Because that’s the essence of love.
You can give without loving. But you cannot love without giving. You have to give. So when you say, “God, I want to express my love to You,” you say, “I give You my heart. I give You my soul. My soul is in Your hands. I want You to take my life.” That’s the greatest way to express your love to God.
Romans 6 “Give yourself completely to God since you’ve been given new life.” Remember it’s always a response. God gave us life and then He gives us new life in Jesus and He says, I want you to give yourself completely back to Me.
What holds us back? Why do you not give your life completely to God? One word. Fear. You’re scared to death. You’re chicken. You’re afraid to give your life to God because you think, “If I give my life completely to God is He going to turn me into some sort of religious nut case.
Some of you are thinking, “This thing about loving God, that’s my problem. I just don’t love God enough.” That’s not your problem. Your problem is you don’t realize how much God loves you. That’s your problem. If you really knew how much God is passionate about every detail of your life you’d throw yourself at Him. How could you not love a God like that? You just don’t know how much He loves you.
Worship is focusing my attention on God. It’s expressing my affection to God.
- And it is using my abilities for God.
This is loving God with all your strength. God wants us to see Him with our minds. He wants us to sense Him with our heart and soul. And He wants us to serve Him with our strength.
Sometimes I’ve said to Christie “I love you” and I get this response “love is a verb” OUCH! For her, the words don’t mean much unless I do stuff – like empty the garbage or hang a painting on the wall, or help bath the kids. Nothing says “I love you” to her more!
Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.” If you get this verse it will absolutely revolutionize your life. You’ll never be the same once you understand this verse. Whatever you do – that means anything – work at it with all your heart as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.
You don’t have to join a monastery to worship more. Some of you think “If my number one purpose is to get to know and love God then I should have a quiet time with God five hours a day.” No. You don’t need to do that. “Then I should come to church every day of the week.” No, you don’t need to do that either.
It’s not about that. You just change who you’re working for.
When you change who you’re working for your work becomes worship.
Many people like to compartmentalize their lives – this is me at church, and this is me with family and this is me at work. God wants all of our lives! He wants to be involved in every area!
If you don’t get anything else we’ve said today I want you to get this one truth. It will revolutionize your life.
In life, it’s not what you do that matters. It’s who you do it for. You give it all to God. And all of your work can be turned to worship. I don’t care if you’re a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker. You can do it for God.
A lot of people get hung up on this, What is God’s will for my career? Should I do this or this or this? God says, ”I don’t care. I wired you up in certain way to have certain interests. Why don’t you do what you’re interested in doing?” God doesn’t care whether you’re a truck driver or attorney or a doctor or a nurse or whatever. God wants to know are you doing it for Me? Whatever you’re doing.
Notice this verse, the paraphrase of Roman 12 in the Message
“Take your everyday ordinary life – your sleeping, your eating, your going to work, your walking around life and place it before God as an offering.” There’s that word again. We said offer is the essence of worship. I’m offering my life to You.
What are you worshipping? I’ll tell you what it is. It’s whatever you’re giving your primary attention to. Whatever you’re giving your primary affection and whatever you’re giving your primary abilities to. In that case some of you worship your career. You’re living for that job. Some of you are worshipping making money. You’re worshipping retirement. Some of you are worshipping pleasure. Some of you are worshipping sex. Some of you are worshipping another person who so dominates your life your total attention, affection, ability goes to that person.
The greatest temptation of your life and the worst sin that you could possibly commit is the temptation to worship something other than God. You say that’s not your problem! Yes, it is. It’s my problem too. It’s the number one problem in life. It is the root behind every other one of your problems. Whenever you love something more than God, you’re going to have chaos, conflict, stress and problems in your life. Always. When I love comfort more than doing the right thing, I always get into trouble. When I love protecting my ego more than God and humility I’m going to go down the wrong path. When I love my reputation, when I love money, when I love pleasure, when I love anything more than God, it creates all kinds of havoc in my life.
So we were created to know and love God back. It’s that simple, and we can love him back by giving Him our lives through loving Him with our minds, our passion and our strength. We don’t need to complicate things so much, it’s really very simple. It’s not the quality or the size of the offering, it’s the attitude behind it, is it ‘with all our heart’ or not?