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Summary: Focusing our attention, expressing our affection and using our abilities for God in worship.

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EXALTING IN WORSHIP

A country preacher sold a mule to a friend, and told him the mule was trained to go when the rider said "Praise the Lord," and to stop when the rider said, "Amen." The buyer mounted the beast and commanded, "Praise the Lord," and the mule shot off like a rocket. The startled rider panicked. "Whoa!" he screamed. The mule was headed straight for a cliff, "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!" At the last second he remembered the minister’s instructions. "Amen!" he shouted, and the mule screeched to a halt right at the edge of the cliff. As the new owner peered over the precipice, he wiped his brow and sighed, "Praise the Lord."...

Words are important, especially the words we speak in worship. We have sung may words during this service already today. Did you mean what you sang? We are continuing in our series going back to the basics and asking the question “What is the Church?” Over the next 4 weeks we will be looking at the 4 purposes of the church. Today we look at the first. The church exists to Exalt God in Worship.

A few weeks ago I shared that God created you to love you. We exist because, out of the overflow of love in the heart of God, we were created as objects of His love. Our first purpose as individuals and as the church is to learn to love God back. One day Jesus was out with His disciples and someone asked Him, “which is the greatest commandment”.

Matt 22:37 Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Notice Jesus says this is the first and greatest commandment. In other words, if you get nothing else right, make sure you get this! Our mission in life is to learn to love God back, because God loves us and created us to love Him and know Him.

This is what worship is. Worship is knowing and loving God back. Today worship is misunderstood. When you say the word WORSHIP most people think of singing, prayer, ritual or communion - going to church or something you do in church. But worship is more than all those things. Our first purpose in life is to worship God. It is our primary objective, our highest priority.

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship.

The key word here is OFFER. Worship is all about offering ourselves to God. Why do we worship? It says here that we offer ourselves to God IN VIEW OF GOD’S MERCY. Worship is our response to God’s love. God made the first move. It is up to us to respond.

What does it mean when it says offering ourselves is our “spiritual act of worship”? The word in the NIV for SPIRITUAL is LOGIKOS which means reasonable and is where the word LOGICAL comes from. In other words, worship makes sense – it is the logical response to God’s love. What do we offer God. We offer Him our love. How do we do that? The verse we have already read from Matt 22:37-38 tells us how to do it. God wants us to love Him 3 ways:

a. God wants us to love Him thoughtfully – with our minds

b. God wants us to love Him passionately – with our heart and soul

c. God wants us to love Him practically – with all our strength

God created the entire universe and He created you but there are three things God does not have unless you give them to Him. He doesn’t have your attention (mind) or your affection (heart) or your ability (strength) until you give them to Him.

1. Focusing our ATTENTION on God - mind

One way of expressing love to another person is by giving them your attention. We see this in God’s great love for each one of us. Do you know that God is always focused on you?

Psalm 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

God notices everything I do and everywhere I go. He has focused his attention on us and never takes His eyes off of us. He never stops thinking about us. We do not understand how God can focus on every person all the time because we are limited. You may think, “God has so many other things to occupy His focus, why would he be interested in me.” He does it because He loves you.

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