THAT THING WE DO
The Finest Hour
March 25, 2012
Worship is something we all do. But the reality is that we aren’t always fully prepared for the implications and influence it should have in our lives.
In this message, Ed Young reminds us of the true definition of worship. And he shows us what it takes to reach out and grasp the life God has for every one of us, beginning with the finest hour of every week.
Good morning! We’re here from beautiful Miami. I want to say hi to all our different environments. You guys doing well? All right! Please be seated.
You know, I love technology. By the miracle of technology we can be right here, but also all across America. Isn’t that cool? So when you’re watching a speaker, as long as the speaker is here it doesn’t matter where “here” is. Does that make sense? Yeah. Anyway.
I’m in a series of messages called, “That Thing We Do.” That thing we do. It’s a series on worship. Well, today I want to talk to you about a subject, the Finest Hour. Say it with me. The finest hour. At all campuses, the finest hour. Just for a second use your imagination. Just for a second picture Bill Gates. He’s a multibillionaire. What if you went home and you’d received an e-mail from Bill Gates inviting you to meet with him in a couple of days, let’s say, Wednesday, in Seattle. And what if in the e-mail Bill Gates pretty much put the cards on the table and said, “I want to do business with you. I want to invest in you.” All of us would be like… this is ridiculous! This is sick! I get a chance to do business with Bill Gates? Surely someone’s messing me around. Surely a friend of mine’s playing a cool practical joke. But quickly you call and find out it’s Bill Gates. So he sends one of his planes to pick you up. He flies you to Seattle. You walk into his office. He extends his hand, you grasp his hand and you’re thinking to yourself, “I just shook hands with Bill Gates!” You sit down, sip some espresso.
Because you know they serve a lot of coffee in Seattle, but it pales in comparison to the coffee here in Miami. Miami has the best coffee in the world. I’ve already had a café con leche and a collada, and a cortadito already! That’s why I’m so energetic!
You talk with Bill. He’s warm, he’s engaging. A transaction takes place. Contracts are signed. He says, “I’m gonna invest huge money in you.” And you know, you do the math, you’re gonna bank big money and you’re gonna put it in the back and be like really, really on another level financially. You walk out of his office and you say to yourself, this is just stunning! I’ve made all this money, Bill Gates has extended his hand to me, and I just basically shook his hand. We did the deal and all he wants to do is kinda meet with me like once a week for the next little while. He’s gonna fly his plane down every time and pick me up. That’s sweet! What if that happened? I mean, would we be happy? We would be like, wow! Unbelievable! We would prepare a note for the meeting. We would wear out best outfit, wouldn’t we? We would know what we’re talking about because we’re actually, we’re talking to Bill Gates, a multibillionaire.
Well, let me stop for just a second. Let me stop the Fantasyland and let’s talk about the real deal. We have an opportunity, don’t we, to meet with someone who makes Bill Gates seem like nothing. We have an opportunity every week to meet with our game-changing God. We have an opportunity to come to his office and, here’s the cool thing, God wants to do business in your life and in mine. I’ll say it again. God wants to do transactions in your life and mine. He has extended his hand to us. He wants us to grasp his hand.
I want to talk to you about the finest hour of the week. The meeting, the appointment, the corporate meeting we have with God each and every week. The first day of the week is Sunday. Sunday is the first day of the week. Why? Because Sunday is resurrection day. That’s why it happens on Sunday. And the Bible says if we give God his day, he will bless the rest. I will say it again. If we worship God on his day, set that day apart, then amazing things will happen in our lives. Again, if you met with Bill Gates, if I met with Bill Gates, we would do anything to be there, have our best on. We’d be prepared! Yet we have an opportunity, don’t we, each and every week to meet with God.
In Hebrews 10:25 it says, “Let us not give up meeting together…” In other words, don’t dis this basic directive in scripture, “… as some are in the habit of doing. But let us encourage one another.” The finest hour happens right here in this office with our great, game-changing God. He extends his hand to us. We need to grasp the hand of God. The first day of the week, our finest hour. That thing we do is worship.
Everybody worships. No one taught you how to worship. No one taught me how to worship, we just know how to worship. We’re passionate about something. That’s worship. God wants us to understand the depth of worship. True worship is not just what happens in here, it’s what happens out there. But what happens in here affects what happens out there. When I worship, what am I doing? It’s my response to God, it’s your response to God’s activity and identity by what we say and what we do. So it’s great to get all emotional during worship, to cry, to lift our hands, to bow our heads and hearts, but if our emotion doesn’t translate into devotion we’re just talking smack and we’re not doing jack.
Let’s talk about preparation for worship. Because if, indeed, God is this game-changing God that we know he is (and I’m telling you he is), then we better be prepared for the finest hour. How do we prepare for worship? You’ll see your message map. Does everybody have your message map? Wave it. Wave it, wave it, wave it, wave it, wave it, wave it, wave… yeah. Go to the right, go to the left. OK, yeah. I will kinda mess you up here. I was trying to figure it out there. But that’s the message map.
That thing we do is what? Worship. Everybody worships. Every single person is passionate about something. God says don’t waste your worship and make sure, God says, you have your rear in gear, you’re here worshiping me corporately at least once a week. So we gotta be, #1 involved in preparation. That’s the first blank on your message map. I love blanks because blanks are kind of naked, aren’t they? Let’s clothe the blank and put the word ‘preparation’ there. We’ve got to be prepared for this meeting with our great game-changing God. He’s gonna take our lives to another level.
How do we do that? Well look at your hand. Everybody do your hand like that. You see, I have stuff written on my hand and that’s what I’m gonna talk about over the next several minutes, the stuff that’s written on my hand. No, you can’t read it but it’s written on my hand so I will not forget it. I’ve got to do whatever it takes to remember stuff, right? If you want to grasp the hand of God, if you want God to take your hand and lead you into this life of worship, into this life that is on another planet and plane of living, we’ve got to be prepared, and it’s about the hand.
The thumb stands for, “I’ve gotta be prayed up.” Prayed up. I pray before I come to God’s office. I pray before I come to church. Who do I pray for? Who do I pray for? I pray for all of the volunteers. We have hundreds and hundreds of volunteers right now in Miami, just making this thing happen. Hundreds of people. They’re tweaking dials, they’re singing, they’re helping us with video, in the preschool area, the children’s area, extravagant hospitality, the parking crew. The same is true in every single one of our environments. Pray for the volunteers! Pray for the people who step out and lead in this area.
Also, pray for those of us who are the pastors. Pray that God would give us the words to say. Pray for other people who will be at Fellowship Church. Pray for people who are believers and how they can ratchet up their relationship with the Lord. Pray for those who are not believers. Pray for those who are dogged with doubt. Pray for those who have serious questions about Christianity. Pray for those who are going through times of suffering. Pray for those who have gone through a time of loss. All those people, all types of people, all stripes of people are represented here at Fellowship. You’ve got to be prayed up. Pray for our own life. “God, what do you want to show me?” Have this expectation as you come to church. Hey, if Bill Gates sent me an e-mail, he’s telling me he’s gonna invest in me, and I’m gonna make all this money, boy when I walk into his office I’m gonna be expecting great things! Do you have a sense of expectation when you come to church? Be prayed up.
The pointer. You better be rested up. <snoring sound effect> Get a good night’s rest. After all, we’re meeting with our game-changing God. Get a good night’s rest. You don’t think you would get a good night’s rest before you met with Bill Gates? Yeah, you would! Get a good night’s rest. Lisa and I talked to somebody a couple of days ago and they were talking about going to this concert. They were like,
“Yeah, I’m gonna take the day off before the concert to rest up prior to the concert.” That’s preparation. We prepare when we go mountain biking. We prepare when we go snow-boarding. We prepare before we go fishing. We prepare before we go hunting. We prepare before we go shopping. Yet we get up and go,
“Yeah, I might go to church. I’m not sure. If I could have some brunch and we could get out early enough, yeah, maybe we’ll have a service. I think I will show up.” That’s not it! We gotta be ready! Rested up, expecting God to do great things.
The tall man, we gotta be dressed up. If I met with Bill Gates, I mean I would have a nice outfit on. Church should not be a fashion show. It shouldn’t be a flesh show. We don’t expect, though, believers to dress like believers until they become a believer. So don’t be judging somebody.
“Oh, what’s this girl thinking about? What’s he doing…” No, no, no, no. They might be followers of Christ. Let God deal with that. People ask me all the time, “How should I dress at Fellowship Church? Casual?” I mean these are kinda jeans and loafers. I don’t have any socks on. This is a cotton blazer, you know. Here’s what I say.
“How would you dress if you were going into God’s office and meeting with him?” Well, I don’t know. Answer that question and that’s the way you dress. But it’s not a fashion show. Why do people start dressing up in the first place for church? Why? You know why? Because it showed honor to God to get dressed up. Also, the ring finger, I like this, too. My ring kinda makes a noise. Thank you. I got this for my 50th birthday. Lisa got it for me. It’s cool.
Get linked up. Get linked up. We have linkage with all sorts of people. God has placed all of us in different parts of life, different ages, different stages. We see people regularly. We should link up with them, extend our hand to them because God has extended his hand to us, invite them, and bring them where? To the house. To the meeting. To the boardroom. Great things will happen. If I am truly following Christ this should be happening in my life regularly. In other words, I should regularly have people I’m praying for who don’t know Christ. I should regularly be linking up and bringing people here who are far away from God. If I’m not doing that, I’m not worshipping. I’m really not a worshipper. Because in worship we confess the name of Jesus. We’ve sung to him, and it’s easy to do that here at Fellowship Church, but what about the gym? What about the golf course? What about the class room? What about the coffee shot? Can you confess him there as well? I don’t mean to be mean-spirited or to preach to people but just to reach out to them. At the right time, you should pray about it, “Hey, why don’t you come to Fellowship Church with me?” We want this place to be a safe place for you to hear a dangerous message. We want you to be comfortably uncomfortable. Comforted by Christ but uncomfortable for him.
The little finger stands for fess up. That’s a little word for confession.
“You mean I should confess my sins as I’m going to church before church? Where did you get that?”
Well, I got it from the Bible. The Bible says in Psalm 130. Sometimes you’ll read some of the psalms and it’s not palms, it’s psalms. Some people say,
“Hey, I like the book of Palms.” No, it’s Psalms. Psalms. Sometimes you’ll read a psalm and you’ll see a little writing below some of the numbers, “A psalm of ascent.” In other words, like you’re climbing a hill. Think about a treadmill. You put it on a 15-degree incline so as people would worship back in the day they would walk up a hill because the house of God was on a hill, on an incline. As they were climbing the incline, people, followers of the Lord, would sing and they would chant. Psalm 130 is a psalm of ascent. Let’s read it.
“Out of the depths I cry to you.” Think about a single parent.
“Out of the depths I cry to you.” Think about a student. Think about a family.
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.” We all need mercy. Once we meet Christ we get messed up by his mercy.
“If you, O Lord, kept a record of my sins…” thankfully he doesn’t. Aren’t you happy about that? I am. That’d be a great place to really clap right now. I’m just, because when one claps everybody claps. I thought I heard everybody clapping. God does not keep a record of my sins. That’s real. OK. I thought I heard that applause.
“If you, O Lord, kept a record of my sins, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness. Therefore you are feared.” What a poignant passage of scripture. We’re forgiven. God has extended his hand to you and to me. He would made up the distance between man and God, between you and God and me and God, caused by our sin. God has extended his hand. We grasp his hand. Our sins are forgiven, forgotten. We’re messed up by his mercy and we trade our guilt in for God’s grace. Our failures for his forgiveness. We confess as we’re going to church. Is that something you’re involved in?
And once we do that, see, we’ve got the hand and we can grasp the hand of God. I’m prayed up, rested up, dressed up, linked up, fessed up. The hand of God.
After our first service it was cool. A couple of students had written this on their hand and we took pictures of our hands together and I put it on my Twitter account. It’s @EdYoung if you want to follow it.
Anyway, OK, yeah, it is. I forget that’s up there! So we talked about preparation and if you’re a Christ-follower this is for you. You’re prepared. You got that down? Preparation? Nod your head yes. Wave your message map again. Yeah, yeah, all right.
OK let’s talk now about another thing we need to do. #2 – See the blank? Participation. Preparation, participation. How do we participate in that thing we do? Now we understand, once again, that worship is our response to God’s identity and activity by what we say and what we do. I’m talking, though, about the finest hour. I’m talking about what we do in God’s office. Because what happens in here affects what happens out there. What happens out there affects what happens in here. You feel me, right? Preparation. We’ve gotta have that. Participation. How do I really get engaged in this meeting? I mean, I’m sitting on the edge of this butter-soft leather chair in Bill Gates’ office, sipping espresso, staring into his glasses like, “Wow!” I mean, I’m like taking notes, I’m like, laughing even if something’s not that funny. I’m like.. hahahaha! Over-laughter, you know? You laugh to much sometimes. Complimenting things. You’re like, well why am I saying that? How engaged am I when I’m in God’s office? Well how do I get engaged? Write it down. I’ll say it again. Write it down. Write it down. I read a stat several years ago about people remembering stuff. In about three to four days people forget 95% of what a speaker has said. Wow. They only remember 5%. You’ll only remember 5% of what I’ve said by Wednesday. Well how do you change that? How do you turn the tide? Write it down. Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through our lips into our fingertips. That’s why the Bible is God’s written word to us. That’s why we have the what? Wave them again, wave them… message map! And if you’re watching us by television you’re like,
“I want a message map!” Well, just go to EdYoung.com and we have an icon there and you can follow along while I speak. If you’re worshiping online… we’re starting an online church in the next several weeks. We have an online pastor so you can be anywhere in the world and be involved and engaged in Fellowship Church. More to come later. Anyway, write it down. If you write it down you can go back and check your notes. Write it down. You got it? Write it down.
You know, when someone scores a basket, I used to say this when I used to play ball. When you shoot a 3-string music, I used to say this. I would sometimes trash-talk. I would say, “Write it down.” Because you got a scorekeeper in a basketball game, they have to write it down. OK, he shot the 3. Write it down. Isn’t that cool? I wanna make a t-shirt! “Write it down.” Anyway, write it down.
Also, sing it out. Sing it out. I don’t care if you’re tone deaf. Sing it out. Sing it out. The Bible says that we’re to sing unto the Lord a new song. Seventeen times! Say 17 with me. Seventeen times the Bible says sing a new song. A new song! We write so many incredible new songs. Study church history. After every great spiritual awakening it was followed by new songs. Isn’t that cool? New songs! Sometimes I meet people and they’ll go,
“Well, I wanna go back. I’m talking back to the old-school stuff. Back to the traditional singing of the church.” And I say, well that’s great. How far back do you want to go? To the Jewish melodies of the early church? To the Gregorian chants? I mean, how far back do you want to go? Some of the great hymns of the church were simply bar songs that people put Christian lyrics to. So take the most popular beats you might hear at some club, they just took that and put Christian lyrics to it. When Silent Night first came out, you know silent night, holy night… people said there was not enough gospel in it. When Handel’s Messiah came out people said, well, it’s just too repetitive. Sing unto the Lord a new song. Traditional songs are great, hymns are great. Don’t get me wrong. However, sing unto the Lord a new song. And when you sing, you sing to God.
Sometimes you’ll see people with their hands lifted. That’s cool. You might be going, why are people lifting their hands? What is the natural response when a little baby, a little toddler sees its father or its parent? This. There’s nothing like that. Dads, pick the child up. He just wants to be held. When we’re doing that we’re saying, “God, I surrender my life to you. You’re God, I’m not. You’re sovereign, I’m not. You’re omnipotent, I’m not. You’re omniscient, I’m not. You’re omnipresent, I’m not. I’m not. You are.” That’s what we’re doing when we extend our hands to God. You don’t have to lift your hands. Maybe you want to put your hand over your heart? Maybe you just want to stand there like a statue? Cool! Sing, though, to the Lord. I don’t care if you’re tone deaf. Sing to the Lord. Most of us at an athletic contest we’ll sing a fight song or sing here or there. We’re tone deaf. But let’s bring it at church as well. So, sing it out.
Also, soak it in. Like a sponge. Soak it in. We soak it, we soak in the word. We soak in relationships. We soak in worship. But we don’t soak it in just to be all bloated and heavy and bleh! I know there’s some churches that are like the soaker churches. Just a bunch of sponges. You know how heavy a sponge is when it’s just packed full of water? What good? Bleh! What good is that? I look at a lot of people who call themselves Christians, they’re just old sponges. <slurping noise> They suck the life out of people, the life out of everything… <blubbering sounds> A sponge is there to be used! Right? We apply it! And we give it away.
That’s the fourth thing. We soak it in, then we give it away. We just squeeze the sponge. We allow God to take his hand and squeeze our lives as we pour living water on people that we see. In our marriage, amongst our kids, our friends. So we give it away, the water of life. There are so many people who are thirsty for eternity. That’s what we’re about. That’s what Jesus wants us to be about. That is the beauty of the church. And at Fellowship Church I thank you for understanding that fact. The finest hour. What happens in here affects what happens out there.
One of the 10 commandments, honor the Lord on the Sabbath. This is our Sabbath. The resurrection day. The first day of the week, we give this day to God, he blesses the rest.
The same is true for our finances. You realize we have an opportunity to participate in the offering, that’s worship. How we handle our stuff. One out of every 10 things Christ talked about was money. One out of 10. When I bring my first to the house, it tells me, “Hey Ed, hey dummy! It’s not about you. It’s about God. He has taken his hand and blessed you and blessed your family with stuff. He wants a portion.” So it’ll remind me and also it’s an act of worship to him, that everything is his. It’s part of worship. Are you involved in that? You know we can’t force you to do that. It’s between you and God. I’m just throwing it out, man. We’ve got to give it away.
So that’s what happens when we are prepared and when we participate in the finest hour. To dis this directive is really, really a scary thing. Don’t do it. God commands it and demands it. Make sure you’re here. Something supernatural takes place as we respond to God’s identity, as we respond to his activity by what we say and do in this place. The finest hour.
Maybe you’re here and you’re like,
“Ed, I’m not a believer but I’m ready to try this thing. I mean, I’m not, I can’t extend my hand to God. I know he’s extended his hand to me but at least I can just extend a pinky.” And Jesus basically said that. He said if you have a pinky-faith, he said a mustard seed faith, that the Lord will grasp your hand and you can know him personally.
I remember when my kids were small we would cross the street, a busy street. I would grasp their hands and they would try to let go of my hand. I could tell, I could feel it. But because I’m the father and stronger, once I had their hand I wasn’t letting go. God’s the same way! He loves you. You’re his child. You need to extend your pinky to him and he’ll grasp your hand and he’ll lead you into a life of worship. You’ll understand that it’s that thing we do. Would you pray with me?
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]