Good morning. Welcome to week number 2 of our series on worship. The theme of this series “Worshiper” is how to worship with your whole life and today we’re talking about “Worship with All Your Soul.” As I was reflecting on this message, King Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes really convicted me of where I’ve lived way too much of my life and maybe that’s where you find yourself today as well. As I considered my activities over the past 30 days, my preparations for Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings, the community activities, business activities, as well as my regular spiritual disciplines, not to mention being the father of 6 children and 2, almost 3, grandchildren I’m almost overwhelmed by the busyness of the life I’ve lived. And I’ll tell you, if it wasn’t for my discipline of rising early and spending time in the presence of the Lord, if it wasn’t for that time of regular daily rest for my soul, that daily time of feeding upon the word of God, I think I probably would have run away screaming long ago.
Solomon asked this question in Ecclesiastes 2:22-23: “What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.” You see, here’s what happens, “even at night his mind does not rest.” And I wonder how many of you are so wound up that you just can’t shut down and your mind and your soul rarely find that place of deep rest.
I think we all know that our bodies need rest, but let me assure you, our souls need rest as well. And so the question is, “How do we or where do we find rest for our souls?”
Well here’s what David said in the Bible. Psalms 62:1, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.” So the Bible affirms that no person, no experience, no vacation, no amount of money, there is nothing outside of God they can bring rest into the essence of who I am. My soul finds rest in God alone!
In fact, Saint Augustine put it this way, he said to God, “You have made us for yourself Oh Lord, and our soul is restless until it finds rest in you.”
Jesus said it this way in Matthew 11:28-29, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Jesus said “Come to me” and I’ll give you rest, not just in your body, but in your soul. Maybe this morning you’re here and you’re stressed out, but you find it hard to show love to those you love the most, your short tempered and mean, because your soul is revved up, you’re overwhelmed, tense, worried, and anxious, and so this morning what really matters most is that you “find rest for your soul.”
Now the theme for this series comes from Mark 12:28-31, where Jesus, talking to some religious leaders about the greatest commandment, says in verse 29, the most important one is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
This morning, as we consider what it means to worship God with all our soul, I want to share this movie clip with you as we reflect on what that means to us. Let’s watch this clip together.
That song is so powerful and Ms. Smith gives us a feel for what the soul is and what it does as she tries to put in words that it’s the deepest part of us. You know, the Bible talks a lot about the soul and David in particular in the book of Psalms.
Look at Psalms 31:9, “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.” In Psalms 63:1, David cries out, “Earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you...” And again in Psalms 84:2, “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”
And from these passages, we get a picture of the deep well that is our soul, but in order for us to understand what it is to worship God with all of our soul, number 1, we need to have an understanding of what our soul actually is.
Dictionary.com defines soul in this way: “The principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.”
Now that is just one of many definitions, but our soul is the part of us that has the ability to process thoughts, to have feelings and emotions, and to make decisions. It’s been said that the soul is made up of our mind, will, and emotions. And the reality is, your soul is the real you, it’s the part of you that no one ever gets to see, because its hidden away inside of you. But just as your mouth reveals your heart, in the same way your heart will betray your soul.
Look at this passage from Genesis 2:7, “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (NIV). Or as the King James Version translates it, “Man became a living soul.”
In Ephesians 3:16, the apostle Paul talks about the soul this way, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (NIV). And so the soul is the inner being or the inner man; it’s the core of who you are. So it’s really no surprise that we have an enemy who wants to attack our souls, one who is constantly waging war against our souls so that they become polluted, cluttered, and full of distractions, and if unchecked eventually will wither and die. Therefore I think it’s important that we identify the enemy of our souls so that we can learn how to resist.
The Bible in 1 John 2:15-17 gives us a picture of our enemy. John describes it for us saying, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”
So our first enemy is a craving for physical pleasure. It’s our flesh, the sinful nature that were all born with, as the Bible tells us in Romans 3:23,
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
This craving for physical pleasure has the ability to eat away at our souls if we don’t subdue it, because our flesh can be very powerful, but there’s something a lot more powerful which we’ll get to in a few minutes.
Before we do, let’s look at our second enemy, a craving for everything we see. This is the world. You see, the message that the world sends us is a constant bombardment of discontent. Our society demands immediate gratification and promises that everything will get better if you’ll just keep upgrading. The only problem is that you’ll always have to upgrade to be content. And so it’s a covetous enemy that keeps us thinking that we’ll be happy if we can just get to the next level. But this is a false idea, and it’s not Jesus’ way.
The third Enemy is pride in our achievements and possessions. This was the fall of the devil himself. Pride originated in heaven when the angel Lucifer decided he wanted to be like God. The Bible tells us this in Isaiah 14:12-14,
“How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."
And as a result, the devil (Lucifer) and a third of the angels were thrown out of heaven.
I think it’s safe to say that pride has its roots in Satan himself, it’s a powerful enemy of our souls, and God is very firm in his dealings with pride. Throughout Scripture, the Bible talks about how God opposes pride, and one that you may be familiar with is found in James 4:6.
"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
So how do we resist these enemies and learn to worship God with all of our soul? The answer is in a distinction between our soul and our spirit.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” NIV
You see, our spirit is the part of us that connects with God’s Spirit when we’re born again. Our spirit is what makes up our emotions, thoughts, intentions, and opinions. The soul is the core of who we are, it’s the real you, and the soul must continually repeatedly submit to God. You see, it takes a personal relationship with God to worship him with our soul. We could live our lives as a churchgoer, but never truly love God with all our soul. The Bible doesn’t say to love him with part of your soul or just to love him in ways everybody else gets to see. It’s not enough just to serve and bless others if when we’re alone with God our thoughts and intentions are ungodly.
If the word of God, Hebrews chapter 4 tells us, “penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit” why might that be? Well, the reason is because the soul needs to be ruled by the Spirit. Our spirit is the part of us that communicates with God the Holy Spirit, and though everyone has a soul, not everyone has the Spirit as described in verse 12. We all have emotions, thoughts, intentions, and opinions, but not everyone is connected to God by his Spirit.
If you remember back in Genesis 2:7 when God breathed life into us he was breathing his Spirit into our spirit and Adam and Eve lived in relationship with God until their sinful rebellion alienated them from him. And in the book of Ezekiel God tells us of his plans of restoration, saying in chapter 36, verse 27, “I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
The New Testament confirms this in Romans 8:14-15 which says, “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
So if your spirit is the part of you that communicates with God, and your soul is the part of you that rules your thoughts, decisions, emotions, and actions, then I think it’s clear that the division between soul and spirit is so that our spirit can have dominion over our soul. You see, because in the natural our soul is not spiritual, but the God breathed Spirit in those who have been born again is fully spiritual and able to have communion with, to love, and to worship the one true God.
With this understanding of our soul and spirit, and our participation in the Divine nature, how should we go about worshiping God with all of our souls?
I’ll give you 3 things from this movie clip that will help you understand how to worship God with all of your soul. The best way that your soul can worship God is to stay humble before him.
1. Keep a Humble Spirit
You see, humility always gets God’s attention, because it’s based on the purest of motives that mankind can express. Humility is always expressed through serving someone else, through encouraging someone else, or building up someone else. That’s the picture we see of Jesus in John 13:3-5:
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” NIV
Jesus is always our best example to follow and even though he knew that he had been given all authority, he laid down his authority to pick up a towel, and in the same way, when we do that, we’re worshiping God with all our soul.
2. Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
I love the line when Louie Giglio says that the story of Hillsong is the story of Jesus. Now I know we’re all aware of the dangers of fame, but you can sense that Jesus is still the most important thing that Hillsong is trying to communicate. Does the story of your life effectively communicate Jesus? Honestly, I don’t know that mine always does. But the truth is, we’re not talking about perfection here, we’re talking about focus, and if people can see Jesus in the story of your life then you’re on the right track.
So number 2, keep the main thing the main thing and don’t get distracted by the enemies of your soul. Keep your eyes on Jesus and allow all of your decisions, thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc., to be communicated through the grid of a relationship with Jesus. And surely the phrase has been used and abused, but the question, “What would Jesus do?” most certainly applies.
3. Keep Others before Yourself
Because self is in direct opposition to others and to the teachings of Jesus. Look at Mark 10:42-45, “Jesus called (the disciples) together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Jesus said if you want to be first, you have to be last. If you want to be great, you have to serve. And so the idea of self is in direct opposition to the health of your soul. And the more we focus on self, the unhealthier we become, but if we can focus on others… When we focus on others, we live in the way that Jesus encourages us to, and thereby become worshipers who worship with all of our soul. And so, the best way to keep your soul healthy is to live a life in service to others. In doing so, you will achieve far more in life than if you try to fight, scratch, and claw your way to the top.
This is how we worship God with all our soul.
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
April 10, 2016