The Heart of True Worship

True Worship

Sunday 02/02/20

Series: Do we Really Believe?

Message – The Heart of True Worship

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The Heart of True Worship

We’ve kicked off the new year with the question – 

Do we Really believe? 

We’ve done this, knowing that true belief is ALWAYS accompanied with actions. Thus the question we’ve been asking ourselves – “How am I living like I believe His words are true?”

Now, over the past four weeks we’ve had the following messages illustrating and enforcing these truths and their implications:

    1. In our Midst – where we covered that Jesus is walking amidst His global church and His individual local churches. He is scrutinizing their walk – are they living like they believe He is Lord? Are they walking like they believe His words and commands are true and important? This is where we began with our series on Do we Really believe? 
    2. Why do we Gather? – Since Jesus’ attention in Revelation seemed to be His church… We focused our attention there. We covered God’s stated purpose for the local church and the gifts He has given as energies in the body (the Apostle, prophet, evangelist, Pastor-teacher) to stir up the majority towards Maturity in Christ and training in ministry.
    3. The Purpose of the Gospel is Life and Peace – Where we learned that just like the local church was given in order to mature and train the saints, the message and purpose of the Good News was to create agreement with God and the intimacy of union as a result. That God was NEVER about behavior (righteous acts) but about oneness – life – to know and be known. But that without Agreement – there can be no union of walking together Galatians 3:21, “(21) Is the law therefore contrary to God’s promises? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly be by the law.” Amos 3:3,  “How can two walk together if they are not agreed?” so there seemed to be a direct relationship between the message and purpose of the Gospel and that of the church. Maturity in Christ which requires righteousness and training in ministry which requires surrender in agreement. 
    4. Worship is how you walk – Where we began to see all of this come together. 
      1. IF Jesus is both God and my Lord and is walking among us, scrutinizing our walk – is He seeing His purposes in the church accomplished in me and the message of the Good News followed by me?
      2. Are we intentional about being matured into His likeness and being trained for ministry work when we come to church? Are we purposeful and intentional in our attendance? Do we see obstacles to our attendance for what they often are… temptations to draw us away? Do we come prepared to hear and with a heart already tuned for obedience? Are we coming with expectant hearts eager to grow, ready to learn and change and be further equipped? Are we hungry to minister as His representatives?
      3. Are we seeking to live lives of agreement through surrender to His words and ways? Are we intentional about even discovering and remembering what He says? Do we truly desire the Glory of God which is Christ’s likeness within and the knowledge of union with God being ministered without…FIRST to our brethren and secondly to the world?
      4. Is my worship of God sincere? When I am tempted to think of something else, other than God as the source of good – to be drawn away in allegiance after it instead of to my Lord…what is my pattern? Do I typically consider it Joy in union and pass the test or do I fall?
      5. Am I quick and intentional and prompt in my hearing the word or am I quick with my own will, opinions and siding with my emotions?
      6. Is my worship merely outward in external acts with no heart or is it permeating my heart so that my devotion to God is what comes out my mouth – being the thing which is MOST abundant in my heart?
      7. In other words, am I doing what is necessary to have a heart which lives like I believe His words are true? What letter is Jesus crafting for me right now? Well done? You have forsaken your love for me? You have grown lukewarm? You are easily sidestepped from the hope of the gospel…what?

Today we are going to be addressing the heart of true worship. It is a heart focused and at rest in it’s union with God in Christ.

In our reading of James chapter 1, he told us that: 

  • our hearts should be tuned for Joy in relationship with God even during times of darkness and temptation. Vs 2
  • That we should look to God for answers and be pure in our trust in His good heart that He will lead us the right way. Vs 5-7
  • That we need to be careful not to be deceived by the lies the enemy tries to entice us with – knowing that if it is truly good it come from God. Vs 13-18
  • That we need to be intentional in our hearing God’s words so that we might obey. Vs 19-20
  • We learned that if we overcome, by remaining true to God’s heart revealed to us, that we will be honored with knowing Him more…Vs 12 But that that knowledge too will have to pass through the crucible. It is what Paul called this current distress.
  • Then James told us how to look into the word that we might obey and that true obedience looks like Christ in us and like ministry to those in need. Vs 21-25

Let’s unpack the ‘how to’ truths of his words together this morning…

But I want to start with where we ended. It provides a clear context of where this all takes place. 

“(26) If anyone thinks he is DEVOUT and DEVOTED to God without controlling his tongue but deceiving his heart, his religion is useless!  (27) Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

What does it mean by not controlling their tongue? Well like I told you in closing last week, James gives us some insight into that later in his letter. Does anyone remember what he says? 

James 3:1-12,  “(1) Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment;  (2) for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body. (3)  Now when we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide the whole animal.  (4) And consider ships: though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.  (5) So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. (6) And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies; it pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell.  (7) For every creature–animal or bird, reptile or fish–is tamed and has been tamed by man, (8) but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (9) With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God’s likeness. (10) Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things should not be this way.  (11) Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? (12) Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.”

Now this coupled together with Jesus’ statement that the wife we speak are the thoughts which have the most real estate in our hearts… Makes James words about devotion make sense. 

There’s no getting around TRUE, INTERNAL worship. If all you have for God is external worship it will tell on you through your own mouth. 

Now back to the do beginning of James’ letter… 

He tells us to count it all joy…

The way we tune our hearts for Joy in the midst of darkness and temptations…trials is to keep our eyes on the prize.

Paul used that phrase, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” The prize is moving upward In Jesus. Becoming more like Him in maturity and ministry. Paul said this in a greater context of allowing Christ to be formed in him – that he might be made mature in Christ. But let me FIRST remind you WHY this is a prize. It is a prize much in the same way that righteousness is a prize. While they are wonderful realities to live in on their own – they are means to the end goal of forever living in 100% union with God! The surrender to agreement with His words and His ways creates His character within us, which in turn makes eternal union and intimacy possible!

So THAT was the context of Paul’s statement of “eyes on the prize” and it is also how we will count it all Joy.

Consider what Jesus did on the cross. The Hebrew writer tells us, “…Who for the Joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross despising the shame and is sat down on the Right hand of the majesty on High – for consider Him Who endured such violent hostility against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

 So the KEY to Joy in trials and temptations is the awareness that their very existence is proof that you are NEVER alone, but that you have and CAN enjoy partial union with God now and perfect, and eternal union with Him forever after this brief time here.

Now – consider that James tells us to be QUICK to hear these words of Christ – the word actually carries a meaning which I have been trying to instill in you for weeks – “let everyone be READY to hearprepared to hear…prompt and intentional in hearing!” 

This places the responsibility upon YOU not only to have the right heart WHEN you hear, but come READY to hear! 

It is the New Testament equivalent to – SHEMA!

What does He want us to be READY to hear? Words affirming Christ’s reign in our hearts and our union with God as a result! Life and peace! 

“(22)  But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

If you hear but do not live like you believe it is true you are deceiving yourself into believing you are a true worshiper of God. Peter in his second letter tells us that if we do not through obedience produce the fruit of Christ’s character we “have become short-sighted,even to the point of being blind and have forgotten that we were purged from our old sins.” ~ 2 Peter 1:9 

You can readily see that with warnings like this and the letters Jesus wrote the churches that God takes this seriously. 

“(23)  Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror;” 

Whose face is he seeing in the mirror? HIS OWN!

“(24)  for he looks at himself, goes away, and right away forgets what kind of man he was.”

We’ve covered this in here before, but the Word God is NO LONGER making a comparison between how you act and how He acts as under the Old Covenant. He is revealing that You are like Him, but if you forget who you are – you will live by how you feel – which is influenced by MANY things other than just God.

Now I am NOT claiming that God does not face you with THINGS YOU DO. He does! But even when He does… He does not say to you – CHANGE WHO YOU ARE – He says change how you Think! The word repent means to change the mind. 

  • “…repent and do the first works…if you have ears HEAR what the Spirit says to the churches”
  • “…don’t be afraid but be faithful to death…if you have ears HEAR what the Spirit says to the churches”
  • “…repent…if you have ears HEAR what the Spirit says to the churches”
  • “…hold on to what you have until I return……if you have ears HEAR what the Spirit says to the churches”
  • “…remember what you have heard and repent……if you have ears HEAR what the Spirit says to the churches”
  • “…hold on to what you have that no one takes your crown…if you have ears HEAR what the Spirit says to the churches”
  • “…As many as I love I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent…if you have ears HEAR what the Spirit says to the churches”

“(25)  But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who acts–this person will be blessed in what he does.”

Summary points:

You cannot fake it until you make it. It walk in Christ requires that we love Him and as a result we WILL treasure His words. 

Treasure = what you store up. 

Matt 6:19-24,

“19  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!