Summary: This sermon series asks the question - Do we really look like Jesus? Are we disciples or are we just tagging along? Are we becoming imitators of God?

The Next Best Thing

Eight Secrets to Imitating Christ Pt 4

Ephesians 5

A couple of weeks ago we began this series looking at Paul’s challenge to the church to be Imitators of Christ. The question that we posed last week and will continue to pose during this series is “Are you the next best thing to Jesus in the lives of those around you?” Paul shares eight secrets to imitating Christ in this passage - practical stuff to help us look like Him.

 V.15 - Be careful how you walk

 V.16 - Redeem you time

 V.17 - Make it your purpose to understand the will of God

 V.18 - Be careful what touches your heart

Today I want to continue with verse 19-

1) Secret # 5 - Let Worship Become Your Lifestyle (v.19) - Notice that verse 19 flows directly out of verse 18 - so does secret #5 flow naturally from #4. Let’s look at this for a moment. As important as it is to understand that life touches our hearts, it’s critical to understand that being filled with the Spirit touches our lives. Over and over in scripture Jesus shows and tells us that we will know the heart of a tree by the fruit it bears. Twenty-two times in the Gospels we find that the way to know a mans heart is to look at the fruit of his life. Verse 19 is a reflection of that fact. Paul indicates that worship (psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs) should become a lifestyle for us.

 The Problem: We live in a church where worship has been corrupted. Oh don’t look at me like that - it’s nothing new. Mankind has always gotten worship wrong. Jesus said to the Pharisees - “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,…” You see we live in a church where worship has become more about us than about God. We sing “it’s all about you Jesus” but what we mean is “It’s all about me Jesus”. It’s about what we like or don’t like, what we prefer and don’t prefer, what it makes us feel like not what it speaks to God. Our hearts have begun to worship at the feet of styles, feelings and preferences instead of being lifted up in sacrifice to a Holy God. Not only has worship in the church become corrupted but our lives have become distinctly divided. You see as long as I am in church on Sunday it doesn’t matter how I live on Monday. Hogwash! That is Phariseeism not Christianity.

There are just two things that I want to share with you about this worship lifestyle this morning.

• It’s about one-anothering. How many of you know that God is interested in how we treat each other? Look at this passage. Paul says that we are to speak to “one another” in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. It doesn’t say we should speak to Him in these things. In fact it implies that when we treat each other this way we are actually making a song in our hearts to Him. Don’t believe me? Look at two scriptures with me this morning. Matthew 25:31-46. John 13:34-35. One anothering is an act of worship. I John 4:19-20 says “We love, because He first loved us. 20If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” You see real worship is fleshed out in a lifestyle not just a bunch of words placed to a particular tune. Real worship becomes a way of life, a way of treating others, a way of living that glorifies the God we serve. Real worship is becoming imitators of God - the next best thing to Jesus.

• It’s about heart - In the 1950 Disney classic Cinderella the poor little Cinderella sings to her friends “A dream is a wish your heart makes.” Well the reality is that Worship is a song your heart makes. Too often our praise is empty, our songs meaningless, and our worship a noisy gong or clanging cymbal in the ears of God. Music rises from instruments and vocal chords but worship rises from the heart. You can sing all the right songs and hit all the right notes but if the song doesn’t rise from your heart it’s just so much meaningless gibberish. When will we finally understand that God is not interested in what you say - He is interested in what you are? Scripture tells us that God is not interested in the outward appearance -that’s our interest - God is interested in what fills the heart of man. Jesus standing before the Church leaders of His day said this to them, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28“So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Jesus told the woman at the well that the true worshippers of God would not be the ones who dressed the best or sang the loudest - they would be the ones who came to worship in Spirit and in truth. Worship that arises from the heart touches the life and becomes a lifestyle.

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