110 Hours of Worship
November 28, 1999
Several Sundays ago, my family and I piled into our truck after the last service. My son was celebrating his eighth birthday at a local skating rink. We were in a mad dash to get there on time, and we did something that we normally don’t do. We stopped at Wendy’s for some fast food. I drove to the front of the skating rink and dropped off Lisa and the kids. They handled getting all the birthday paraphernalia into the establishment. I parked the car, and it was my responsibility to take in the food. While I was walking through the front door, a young man, who happened to be the owner of the establishment, stopped me and said, “Sir, you can’t bring any food or drink inside my skating rink.” I said, “Thank you, I didn’t realize that. I will eat my food in the car before I come in.”
So I walked out into the parking lot. (It was a beautiful afternoon.) I leaned against my truck and began to eat the Wendy’s Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich. Suddenly, I saw something that stunned me. I saw the young man, the owner, who had just informed me of the rules on the inside of his complex, walk outside to his car that was parked in a handicapped space. Obviously, this young man was not physically challenged. He got something from his car, walked over to his friend’s car, also parked in a handicapped space. I watched him get in his friend’s car and drive off—apparently to the Dallas Cowboys game.
I saw later that the car just sat there for hours and hours. I thought to myself, “That is just like us—just like you and just like me.” We come to church and worship. We obey God’s rules on the inside. We sing. We clap our hands at the appropriate time. We try to listen and maybe jot down a couple of notes. Then we walk from the inside of God’s place to the outside, and we end up breaking His laws in spectacular fashion. Worship happens as much on the outside of the church as on the inside.
The title of today’s talk is “110 Hours of Worship.” Maybe you are asking where in the world I came up with that number, 110 hours of worship. Well, in a week there happens to be 168 hours. Let’s say you get 8 hours of sleep a night. That leaves you 112 waking hours to do life. If you attend church, let’s take 2 hours off from the 112, and that leaves you 110 hours to reflect the majesty of your Maker.
We have learned throughout this series that worship is being intensely passionate about a person, place, or thing. We know that everybody worships, every single one of us. We are intensely passionate about a certain person, place, or thing. We have also seen that God demands our worship. He wants it. We are made in His image to give Him worship and glory.
God knew that we would struggle with this worship thing. He knew that we would have a tough time realizing and living out the implication that everything we do and say and touch should be an act of worship. So here is what our great God did, and this is the focus of today’s talk. Our great God has put within our paths and around our lives many different symbols and things that push us or nudge us toward God and toward worship. Isn’t that a cool deal?
Let me explain a little bit. Over the last ten days, I led a group of 114 people from The Fellowship Church to Israel. We had a wonderful time of touring and walking where Jesus walked. I got up early one morning. (We were staying in a beautiful hotel situated on the Dead Sea, which happens to be the lowest point on earth.) I needed a workout, and decided to climb a nearby mountain. I put on my shorts and my hiking boots and hit the mountain.
The first portion was an easy climb—no problem, just a walk in the park. Someone had painted little markers on the boulders along the way to indicate where to go. It did get to be difficult, however. I found myself on all fours. There were rockslides. I even wondered what I had done deciding to climb that mountain. Wouldn’t that be classic? “Young Pastor Dies Mountain Climbing Near the Dead Sea.”
I was all alone. There was nothing there. But I began to get the hang of it. Sometimes I hit a plateau. Sometimes I had to climb down in order to climb up. After about 30 minutes, I stopped and turned around. Wow. What a perspective. The hotel looked tiny with the Dead Sea behind it. I had an intense time of worship on that mountain in the middle of the dessert.
I looked at my hands and said, “God, thank you for changing my life.” As I looked at the Dead Sea, I thought to myself that I had been dead, yet He made me alive when I received Him. That was my first act of worship. Then I thought about the mountain being a mountain of worship representing my Christian life. I said, “God, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to climb. Thank you for the fact that even though I have fallen, even though I have plateaued now and then, even though I have struggled or gotten scared by doubt or questions, You have given me little markers along the way. You have shown me that I am becoming a true worshipper.”
What was going on? What was happening? This mountain in the desert became sort of a symbol in my life that pointed me to worship. It was as if God was saying, “Ed, you have 110 hours every week. Think about this mountain. Think about your progress. Reflect me and mirror me in all that you do and that you say.” And that is precisely the direction in which we are going over then next few minutes. I want to help you through the Bible, God’s revealed word to us. I want to assist you in becoming keenly aware of the things in your life, the significant symbols that God has placed in your path to point you to worship.
I’ll begin by asking you this question. How many of you love to snow ski? Raise your hands. I have skied one time in my life, fifteen years ago. It was a lot of fun, and hopefully I will do it again one day. When you are skiing, maybe cruising down a Black Diamond, you are watching and looking at and checking out snow. So when you see the snow or maybe when you wipe out and eat snow, what does it cause you to do? Maybe you are not a skier but into The Weather Channel. You check it out and see snow. Maybe you are praying for snow. When you think about snow, it should cause you to worship.
Case in point—Isaiah 1:18, Living Bible—“Come, let’s talk it over, says the Lord. No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow.” Have you ever had a stain on your clothing that seemed impossible to get out? Well sometimes sin seems to be permanent, doesn’t it? We say that God can never forgive us for that one. No way we are worthy; no way we can be restored because of that sin. But God has promised us that He can make us as clean as freshly fallen snow. Snow should point us to worship, to worship the fact that God is the God of forgiveness.
If you like birds, have I got a thought for you. We see a lot of birds around Texas. Oftentimes we see evidence of birds on our cars, don’t we? We love our feathered friends. Several days ago, I was fortunate enough to sit in the exact spot where Christ sat when He delivered the most important sermon in history, the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus used many illustrations as examples in His sermons, things that His culture could
connect with. In this context, He used some birds. Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
Every time we see a bird, or evidence of a bird, it should cause us to worship God. Why? Because God is our caretaker. God is with us. And if He takes care of these little birds, just think about how He is going to take care of your needs and mine, your desires and mine, your wants and mine. God knows. Another symbol from nature. Snow—forgiveness. Birds—God cares for us.
I like fruit. In fact, I eat fruit nearly every day. You know, I am pretty much a health nut. I love to go to this place called Java Juice. Five times a week, I go to Java Juice and order a Protein Berry Pizzazz. When we think about fruit, we should think about worship. God has placed fruit in our lives to help us nutritionally, but also, I believe, to point us to worship. John 15:16, “You did not choose me, Jesus said, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.”
Jesus made the first choice, didn’t He? The choice about living a sinless life and dying a sacrificial death and rising again. We have the second choice. We either receive that or we don’t. And the moment we receive Christ, the moment we apply and appropriate the redemptive work of Jesus on Calvary, what happens? Jesus places the person of the Holy Spirit inside your life and mine. And the Holy Spirit’s full time job is to help you and to help me become a producer of fruit. I am talking about farmer’s-market-type spiritual fruit.
The Apostle Paul highlighted this concept in Galatians 5, “But the fruit of the spirit….”—we can’t manufacture it ourselves—“…is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” Those happen to be the characteristics of Christ. Now these characteristics are not optional. We can’t say, “OK, I will produce love by the Spirit. And I like this patience stuff and gentleness, but the others, self-control and kindness, oh no.”
It is a Spirit thing, and let me tell you something about the Spirit. I am talking about the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead or the Trinity. The Holy Spirit never calls attention to Himself. He never asks us to worship the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit always points us to Christ. He is our convictor, our counselor, our guide. He is pointing us to Jesus because remember, friends, it is all about Jesus. We were sought and bought by His blood, and if we receive that, it is our first act of worship.
Then we begin to climb the mountain of worship, and while we climb, we have got to be producing fruit. Our Lord said that He would know His followers by the fruit they produce.
Some people who call themselves Christians produce plastic fruit, fake fruit. You know those hypocrites; they will say one thing and do another. You look at them and think they must be producing real fruit, but when you look at the fruit, you find out that it is plastic. Others that go by the label of “believers” just produce a bunch of peels. They have rotten apple cores and banana peels just hanging around. They produce fruit, but they don’t share it. They just consume it and they become spiritually obese. They are like Fat Albert! Now if you are not laughing, ask your parents about Fat Albert, an incredible cartoon character by the genius of comedy, Bill Cosby. Well, don’t be a Fat Albert person of faith. The Spirit produces the fruit. Share it. People are hungry. People need it. Become a farmer’s market believer.
I have a confession to make. I don’t like yard work. I love ChemLawn. Some of my friends just love yard work; they really get into it. I guess it goes back to living in the country when I grew up. My father had us mow our two acres with a push mower. My brothers and I had to weed the flowerbed, which was about 200 yards long. So I am not really into yard work. I will admit it. But a lot of people are. When you are into yard work, you have got to be into grass. Winter rye—let’s see, I don’t even know any other names of grass—artificial turf, whatever. Grass should point us to worship. The Bible speaks volumes regarding grass.
The Bible says that grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of God stands forever. It also says in Psalm 103:15-17, “As for man, his days are like grass….” We are temporal. “…he flourishes like a flower of the field….” We are temporal. “…the wind blows over it and it is gone…” We are temporal. “…and its place remembers it no more…” Temporal. “…but from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him and His righteousness with their children’s children….” Grass should motivate me to worship. I have a limited time here on this planet, and I am going to spend eternity with God. So I must take advantage of my opportunities to glorify God.
A lot of people get up very, very early. Years ago I was not really a morning person, but now I am. I get up every morning to study. I spend the first part of the morning just getting into scripture and prayer and doing research. Maybe you will be on a commute down 635 or 121 and see the beautiful, beautiful Texas sunrise. There is nothing like a Texas sunrise, is there? That should cause you to worship. Lamentations 3:22-
- Have you ever heard of that book? I confess to you, I had to look that book up in my Table of Contents. Don’t be shy about using the table of contents in the Bible. “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions….” That means love in action. “…never fail, they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.” We should worship God because He is a fresh God, a new God. He has a standing appointment He wants you and me to keep every single day. But too often we call in sick, make up excuses, and we miss our moments with God. There is no way we can live a fresh and vital life if we don’t spend time with Him. It shouldn’t be a legalistic trip, it has got to be a relationship. Fellowship with the Lord.
Let’s think about the clouds. We think about the clouds a lot. We watch Troy Duncan and he talks about this system or that system. The clouds should cause us to worship God. God has a home for you and for me in heaven. In this area there are some pretty impressive homes. How about Highland Park?! Whoa, those are houses! No, those are shanties compared to the mansions that you and I have in heaven. 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “After that we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will be with the Lord forever.” This is referring to The Rapture.
The Rapture means that those of us who are in Christ, those of us who still are living on this planet will be raptured to heaven one day. We will meet the Lord in the clouds, and people who are left behind will try to explain it. In fact, there is an entire series in our bookstore written by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LeHaye called Left Behind. If you want to read something exciting about what I just said, buy that series. But somebody left behind will just try to explain it away, but we will be in heaven. This is not referring to The Second Coming. The Second Coming will happen after The Rapture and after the seven-year Tribulation which is hell on earth.
When we were in Israel, we stood on a mountain overlooking the Valley of Armageddon where a river of blood will flow 200 miles during the final great battle. As I looked at that, I was saddened because many people will miss heaven. But, also, I thanked God because I know that one day I will be spending eternity with Him. So the clouds should motivate us to be ready.
A rock. While we have a lot of rocks here in Texas, they are especially frequent over in Israel. One day Jesus talked to Simon Peter, a guy we mention a lot. Simon Peter was very human. He would fall and often mess up. Jesus was standing before a big mountain, a rocky mountain. In the area, a lot of idol worship went on, specifically the worship of Pan. Jesus was talking to Simon Peter at Caesarea Philippi. He wanted Peter to indicate who he thought Jesus was. Let’s pick up the conversation. Here is what Jesus said in Matthew 16:17: “Blest are you Simon, son of Jonah….” Now isn’t that weird. Son of Jonah. You are remembering that Jonah was an Old Testament guy and Simon Peter was a New Testament guy. How would Simon Peter be the son of Jonah? He wasn’t, but here is the connection. Jonah was the first running man. He was the guy that God tapped on the shoulder. God told him to preach repentance to the gentile city of Nineveh. Finally, Jonah did it.
Well, Simon Peter, years after that situation, did something. He became the guy who put down the race card. Talk about racism. Simon Peter and the other followers thought that Jesus and Christianity was a Jewish thing. But Simon Peter was involved in recruiting the first gentile convert similar to what Jonah did hundreds of years before in the Old Testament. That is why Jesus called Peter the son of Jonah. “…for this was not revealed to you by man but by my Father in heaven.”
Now before I read this next part, let me tell you something about language. We have a very lazy language, English. It is casual. The Konia Greek is laser beam language. I am talking about specific. And here is where, quite frankly, the Catholic Church has been tripped up for hundreds and hundreds of years. Let me explain it. It is over a simple linguistic error. “And I tell that you are Peter…” The word “Peter” is pronounced Pet-ros. Petros means “little stone.” So translated into our language, He was telling Peter that he was a little stone…just a little stone. Then He said, “…on this rock…” the word “rock” is Petra, meaning “huge, hunking stone” like the big rocky mountain behind Jesus as He was speaking.
In other words Jesus was saying, I am the rock. You are a little stone. Jesus said that He was Petra, the big stone. “…and on this rock (Petra) I will build my church.” He did not say on Simon Peter but on Jesus. “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” So says the well-known hymn. When we see a rock, it should cause us to worship God because we are a part of the local rock, the body of Christ. Scripture says that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. When you see the rocks, let them cause you to worship.
Again, I am just whetting your appetite, just giving you a tip of the iceberg. Let me do one more. I have seen four births. My wife and I have four children. I don’t want to see any more. As a pastor, I have had the opportunity to talk to many couples who have had children. They always say it was incredible, a miracle. You can talk to physicians who deliver babies. They say it is a miracle. I have a physical birthday, so do you. Mine is March 16, 1961. That is my physical birthday. Also, if I want to be a true worshipper, I have got to have a spiritual rebirth. I have got to be born again into the family of God.
Well, here is how that scenario played out. There was a guy in the Bible named Nicodemus. Nicodemus kept all of the rituals and legalistic stuff of the Pharisaical law. (These people were so freaky in their laws that the fringe on their garments could only be a certain length. They were out there.) Nicodemus, the Bible says, came to Jesus at night. He was the quintessential seeker, the investigator. He wanted to come to Christ when no one else could see him. And I bet you right now we have got some Nicodemus-type seekers probably hanging out in the back, just checking out this Christianity thing. They know that their life isn’t really working, even though they may look cool with the Rolex watch and the nice car. But their credit cards may be maxed out and their marriage may be in trouble. They are seeking because they are not really happy. Nicodemus asked Jesus what was the net effect of what He was saying. Jesus said in John 3:3, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
Born again. How are we born again? How are we spiritually reborn? We come to a point in our life where we believe to the best of our knowledge that Jesus did the redemptive work on the cross and rose again. And once we receive that, we are adopted into the family of God. God is our Father and we are adopted into His family. And once we make this step, we appropriate the redemptive work of Christ into our lives, and that becomes our first act of worship. So a lot of you who are Nicodemus types, checking things out, can’t really worship. Yeah, you can worship in a Webster’s Dictionary way, but you can’t really worship. And you will never be satisfied until you bow the knee to the one who is worthy of our worship, something we will talk about next weekend.
I love what the Bible says about the family of God. It says we are adopted into the family of God. If you are adopted, raise your hand. Get them up there. You want to say, God, thank you that I am adopted. You want to know why? The Holy Spirit chose that word “adoption” to define what it means to become a Christian. Back in Biblical times parents could disown a biological child, but they could not disown an adopted child. If you are adopted, man, you are in good, good company. And that is how you are born again. Once you are adopted, you can’t get out.
Let me use me as an example. My father is Homer Edwin Young. Thank the Lord he did not name me Homer Edwin Young. My name is Edwin Barry Young. Anyway, I did a lot of stuff while growing up that broke my fellowship with Homer Edwin Young. If you have been around here for awhile, you have heard me tell a lot of those stories. But there is nothing I can do that would break my relationship with him. Why? He is my daddy. Once you are born again into the family of God, there is nothing you can do that can break your relationship with God. You can mess up your fellowship with Him, that is where confession comes in, the freshly fallen snow type stuff. But you cannot lose your connection with Him. So maybe you need to become born again today. In just a couple of moments I am going to share with you how to do that.
Well, I hope this message has made you keenly aware of your 110 hours of worship. God has placed a lot of stuff in your path and mine to point us to worship. What is the take home? Let me share two quick bank shots with you. Number one. Make sure that you regularly take a nature walk of worship with God. Make sure that you are keenly aware 110 hours a week that you are involved in worship. A rainbow, for example, represents the fact that God is a covenant-keeping God. A fish should remind us that Jesus called us to be fishers of men, to share Christ with others. You can go on and on and on.
Have you ever watched The Crocodile Hunter? I love The Crocodile Hunter. This guy really knows nature. One day he was crawling in a hole looking for some snakes. “What gorgeous snakes,” he said. He put his face right up to the snake, and it bit him. Blood was spewing everywhere. Here is what he said. “You can’t blame him for that!” Boom. Bit him again. “You can’t blame him for that! Oh, he is just gorgeous.” Wow.
I would like to hang out with that guy for a couple of days. But The Crocodile Hunter stops short. He loves nature, he has an appreciation of it. But he stops short. He doesn’t realize the fact that nature reflects God. We should never worship nature. We should never bow down to it. That is pantheism. That is saying that God is confined by nature. No, nature points us to God. Take a regular nature walk during your 110 hours of worship.
Number two, secure some symbols of significance that point you to express your love to God. I brought some from my office which do that in my life. These are replicas of the nails that were used to fasten Christ’s body to the cross. They were given to me by one of our founding members years ago. I have these on my desk and they always remind me that it is by grace I am saved, something I do not deserve. They remind me that it was my sins that crucified my Lord. On my best day, I don’t deserve what He did for me. Nails.
Something else is this journal. I have been journaling my prayers since I have been 18 years of age. Every time I see these journals stacked up in my library, I think about the faithfulness of God. God has spoken to me, He has answered my prayers. I have walked with Him and expressed my questions to Him, my needs to Him. He has taken care of me when I thought my faith was very, very weak. This represents prayer.
This is a picture that Owen Goff blew up for me. I have this in my office. It is a picture, taken from the air, of the church during a weekend service. Every time I walk by this picture, I think about the privilege God has given me just to be a part of something this great. This church is a God thing. But it also motivates me to know that I have got to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. I have got a weekly appointment before 8,000 to 10,000 people when I have got to say a word on God’s behalf. I deal with a lot of fear during the preparation of a message, good fear. Fear is a great motivator. I am talking about astonished reverence. And this reminds me of what has happened at our church.
One more symbol, this Bible here. I have had it for the ten years of our church. I can look through it and see all the highlights and notes I have made. It indicates to me that we are under the authority of God’s word, as is the church. We have no man-made creed. We are a Bible-believing, Bible-communicating, Bible-teaching church. We do that from knee high to tree high.
I pray that you process the stuff that we talked about today and apply it to your life. Symbols point us to whom? To God. God is worthy of our worship. And next weekend we are going to discover why God is worthy of our worship. I will give you one hint. It is all about God’s name. Don’t miss it.