no neutral groundYou know there are moments in my life when I’m really aware of God.  How about you?  There are moments in my life when I am full of worship for Him.  For me I am so focused on Him in those moments looking at the sunrise or the sunset.  It’s like I can feel God tapping me on the shoulder and saying “Hey Sam…look at what I have done.”  And it always amazes me.  Often times when I am on my bike, I look around at this beautiful country side that we live in I’m just amazed at what God has created for us.  When I’m hiking up a mountain, I feel God and I see Him in every tree, and in all the amazing rocks and in those scenic views.  There are those moments when we are on family vacation at the beach and there is just something about standing there looking out over that amazing ocean isn’t there?  There is such a hugeness about the ocean, the waves, the sun and the sky, and somehow in those moments we become so aware of God.  It is easy in those moments to just step back and say; “Wow God, you are amazing.”  It’s easy standing there with the sand in my toes, on vacation looking at such a scene to be very aware of Him.  I think in these beautiful moments, out in nature, when life is a little quieter than usual we could all agree that we have an ability to see creation for what it is…and it’s in those “wow” moments that we can sense God, and focus on Him…we worship God.

Think for a moment, what are some of the moments that you are keenly aware of God?  I know for me there are other moments when I KNOW God is there.  Sometimes it’s when I am amazed at what He has created but other times it is when I really, really need Him.  When I am struggling or dealing with something so painful that I don’t know if I can get through it…I don’t know about you but in those moments I am very aware of God.  So in those painful or desperate moments I can also sense God.  I am very aware and focused on Him.

So how about you?  Are there moments in your life when you are focused on Him?  When you are just in awe of Him, or you’re just very aware of God in your life?  I think for some of us we would say that it’s on Sunday mornings here at MRC when the band is leading us into songs of worship and praise, songs that reflect on who God is and He just seems to be in here in such a big way in those moments.  It’s almost hard not to focus on Him and enter into worship isn’t it?  What is really interesting to me is that in most of the big moments of life…when my wife is in labor, and I desperately want her and the baby to be ok…I am very aware of God and my need of Him.  In those epic moments of my life standing at the beach at sunset, or climbing a mountain and looking around, I get it.  He is big and I am not.  Sunday morning as the band plays, and we speak and teach about Him I am aware of Him, how about you?  There are moments that we are very aware of God.  But my question really becomes then, why is it just moments?  Why not all the time?  Why is it moments and not all of my life?  Well, that is what I want to talk to you about today.

If you think about it, in those “big” moments that we were just talking about, it’s actually pretty easy to see God in them.  The high light moments, or the painful moments, or the really desperate moments, or the focused moments here at church seem to bring an awareness of God and who He is to us.  But God is always there isn’t He?  We know from scripture that He is, and He always will be…

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” NIV

God is always working.  He is always with us.  He is there, all the time doing a work in us.  Now this is what is so interesting, and really what I want to look at today.  He doesn’t always move in those huge moments of our lives that grab our attention and literally turn our heads towards God.  Often it’s subtle, probably slower than we like, and most likely it doesn’t look like we want it to look.  I think it’s because of the quiet work that God is doing in us each day that we often miss Him.  Let’s face it, we have so much going on in our lives that demand our attention and draw our eyes and our focus away from God.  It is so easy to miss the amazing work that God is doing in our lives, right now.  We can have these amazing moments of worship, where we seem to get how big He is and how small we are…but I want that heart of worship to be woven into every breath that I breathe, and every step that I take.  You’ve heard that the squeaky wheel is the one the gets the grease right?  Well it is so true.  And God isn’t always in our face, demanding our focus and our attention.  Look, the last thing we would want to do is miss Him but so many of us are missing the beautiful thing God is doing in our lives everyday…and that is where my heart is for this message today.  I want us to live a life of worship, not have moments of worship, because in the world we live in if we aren’t careful we can miss God.

I was so impacted reading the words of Job the other day that I just had to share this with you and then we will begin to break this down.

Job 9:4 God’s wisdom is so deep, God’s power so immense, who could take him on and come out in one piece? 5 He moves mountains before they know what’s happened, flips them on their heads on a whim.  6 He gives the earth a good shaking up, rocks it down to its very foundations. 7 He tells the sun, ‘Don’t shine,’ and it doesn’t; he pulls the blinds on the stars. 8 All by himself he stretches out the heavens and strides on the waves of the sea. 9 He designed the Big Dipper and Orion, the Pleiades and Alpha Centauri. 10 We’ll never comprehend all the great things he does; his miracle-surprises can’t be counted. MSG

What an amazing chunk of scripture…and what a heart of worship here.  This is Job, he is a Godly man.   Which is pretty obvious by what he just said, but you know, he seems to really understand who God is…but here is what is really interesting, Job is in the worst of all situations.  He has lost everything and I do mean everything.  He has horrible sores from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet and to make matters worse he has three friends there giving him some pretty rough advice.  And in the middle of this…is Job, a man who is mourning the loss of family, who has lost everything, who is wondering why in the world God is putting him or is allowing him to go through all of this.  This guy is sitting there scrapping these horrible, oozing sores with a broken piece of pottery and out of him comes this beautiful worship filled statement.  Through all of that, we get to see such a profound understanding of how huge God is.  We see a heart of worship and focus on the amazingness that is God…let’s look at verses 5-10 again in the NIV.

Job 9:5 He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. 6 He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble. 7 He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. 8 He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. 9 He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. 10 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. NIV

You know these moments that Job is talking about here are the moments that we are profoundly aware of God.  I know I am!  When He shakes the earth, when we see the amazing sky, when we stand at the ocean and look at those waves…when we see the unbelievable things that He does we are focused on Him.  Or it’s when we are in a bad spot and in deep need of Him.  We know He is there then don’t we?  And we are very aware of Him in those moments.  But it is what Job says next that I just can’t get out of my mind.

v11 Somehow, though he moves right in front of me, I don’t see him; quietly but surely he’s active, and I miss it. (MSG)

Why is it so hard to see God in the regular moments as He moves right in front of me?  Why is it that when He is quietly active in my life every day, I can miss Him?  Well it’s not because we want to ignore Him, I mean look at Job.  He has an amazing heart of worship.  He seems to really get God and even he is saying he can miss him too.  Well, so can I, and I bet if you’re honest you could say that you can miss Him too!  Let’s face it in the big moments God seems to be tapping us on the shoulder and getting our attention but most of the time it’s everything else in our lives that demands our attention and focus and if we aren’t careful we lose it.  We will lose our focus, this understanding, this heart of worship for God.  Which frankly, is easy to do in our culture today because we have so much else to focus on, so much else to put our time, our energy, and our resources into other than God.  We want to live a life of worship, and we want to live a life focused on God…but it is so hard to do in a world that really demands our attention in so many other ways.  Yes we see God in the big moments, and no we don’t want to miss God moving right in front of us in all aspects of our lives…but it’s easy to do.  So I wanted to look at some things that can cause us to miss God, because as always I think that when we see these things we can do something about it.

One of the ways to miss God – Is to have too much.  Look at what Jesus says here about a life of worship.  He is talking about worship but goes a whole other direction than you may think…

Matthew 6:19 “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or – worse! – stolen by burglars. 20 Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. 21 It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being…24 “You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.  (MSG)

So why in the world would Jesus be hammering away at your material possessions and your money when he is teaching about God worship and living your life for God?  Is it because material possession and money are evil?  No, there is nothing evil about those things!  It’s because in all of these material possessions we are losing our focus.  They take from us.  They take your money from you which could force you towards debt.  Once in debt you’re forced to work harder and make more money, or we just keep going further and further into debt, which becomes more than a distraction in our lives it becomes oppressive doesn’t it.  We bury ourselves in debt and it effects all areas of our lives and Jesus is here saying, why are you doing this?  These things of yours don’t matter…they will end up in a dump someday!  So these things take your money, you know what else all of these things take?  They take your time don’t they?  With everything you own you have more clutter, more clean up, more maintenance…you have to take care of all of your stuff.  So it takes time from you, and I think we would all say we don’t have a lot of that anyway!  But the tragedy is really in this…Jesus says that where your treasure is, that is where you want to be.  The reality is that you can’t worship two things at once, and where your pocket book goes is often where your heart is.  Do you see why we can’t talk about a living a life of worship without talking about material possessions?  There is nothing wrong with having nice things, but you really need to be careful because those things are demanding your attention, and they can be much, much louder than God in your life!  You know what I hear Job is saying?  “It’s easy to give our attention to God in the big things…but what about what God is doing and saying in your life each and every day?”  Jesus ends this teaching on a life of worship by saying this…

Matthew 6:34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.  (MSG) 

It’s hard for me to read this and not think about Job sitting in mourning, and pain trying to focus on God.

Another way we can miss God is to get too wrapped up in yourself.  Listen to what Paul says here about our spiritual act of worship…

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. NIV

So I think for some of us we read this and think, whoa…Sam!  The idea of standing at the beach and worship God sounds really nice.  I like the idea of hiking in the woods and worshiping him because of all He made…or getting really crazy and putting my hands up during the worship sets on a Sunday morning…but this whole sacrifice thing sounds a little more challenging!  Well this is a big deal, it is so hard for a lot of us to focus on God because we are really wrapped up in ourselves.  So yeah, we will miss God moving quietly in our lives every day if our focus is on ourselves rather than on Him!  Checkout the same verse in the Message version…

Romans 12:1 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.  (MSG)

Can you do that?  Can you take the everyday ordinary moments of your life…and give them to God?  Can each and every moment of your day become an act of worship?  Listen to what Paul says next…

Romans 12:2 Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.MSG

Do you hear it?  Paul is saying, don’t miss God.  Yes you will see him when He shakes the Earth, and when He stretches out the sky, and when He flips mountains on their heads but God is working in you and with you each and every day.  Paul is warning us that we can miss God if we aren’t focused on Him…and I will miss God in my every day moments of my life, if I am too wrapped up in myself.  Listen to the next verse from Paul here…

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  NIV

Look, we want to live a life of worship, not just have moments of worship.  That can’t happen if we are too wrapped up in ourselves.  It’s when we place God first, and offer our bodies as a living sacrifice that we can go from being a person that only sees God in the epic moments, to someone who can see God in all of our lives, in the big moments where he grabs our attention but also we begin to see the beauty in the everyday, ordinary moments of our lives too…which really should be our goal.

Worship is more than a song.  It’s more than an activity we do on Sunday.  It’s the attitude of a person who has placed God first in their life.  A disciple of Jesus has done that, and it comes out in their actions. This is why when we serve others we feel the love of God in us so much.  We are literally tearing down those human instincts of selfishness as we serve others and  we are allowing the focus to literally shift off of us and onto God.  That is when things can get fun.  That is when a heart of worship comes fully alive.  As I put this message together I came across this quote by Billy Graham that really sums this up…

“The highest form of worship, is the worship of unselfish Christian service.” Billy Graham

You know there are so many ways that we can miss God.  And this past week sitting in the words of Job really impacted me.  Yes we will see God in the big moments.  The moments when we stand in nature, or the tough moments when we desperately need Him, but what a tragedy to not see the amazing work He does in us each and every day.  I just kept thinking, there is a difference between worshiping God in a moment, and living a life of God worship.  It’s in that life of worship that we begin to live differently, with peace, and joy, and strength.  But there is a problem, there are just so many things screaming for our focus in life, while God often moves quietly, and Job says it so well…

v11 Somehow, though he moves right in front of me, I don’t see him; quietly but surely he’s active, and I miss it. (MSG)

Let’s face it, we live in a culture that demands a lot from us.  Our culture and this world are definitely louder than God most of the time and it can be really challenging to not miss God in all the ordinary moments of life.  I mean at this point, it is kind of scary but my iphone calendar often guides me to where I’m going next!  We have so much going on that it is really difficult to give any focus to something that isn’t screaming for our attention and often times God works quietly, moving right in front of us but we can miss it.  I don’t know about you but I want to live a life of God worship.  Because it’s in that life that I am able to focus on God.  I begin to gain a greater understanding of God, and I begin to gain strength from who God is…all of these things happen as I begin to live each moment of my life with a heart of worship for Him.

Man oh man, is that hard to do in the world we live in today.  Sometimes I wish that God would be sending me push notifications to my phone saying “Hey focus on me!”  You know in some ways, I feel like he does send push notifications to my heart, the question will be if I am aware enough of Him moving quietly right in front of me, or not.  It’s tough to stay focused on Him all the time.  If God would just demand my attention I would give it to Him!  I mean every time He really shows himself I see Him…and it means so much to me, and I feel Him, and I wish those moments would never end.  Interestingly enough, they don’t have to end…but it’s on me.  God is always there, and you know what…it’s in that heart of a life of worship that we know it.  I must begin to fight for time with God each and every day.  I must fight for time in God’s word each and every day, because here is what I know, when I spend time with God everything changes.  Living a life of worship leads to a different level of peace and joy that can only be found when you start to see God in all parts of your life, moving quietly each and every day.  This is why worship is such a big deal, and why we need to understand that God worship is so much more than something we just do singing a song on a Sunday morning.

Look I know life is busy, and I know there are a ton of things screaming for your attention.  My challenge for you is this…begin to carve out the time necessary to enter into your own relationship with God.  So that you can live your life as a worshiper, rather than just worshiping in the moments when God has a little more of your attention.  There is nothing more rewarding, nothing more life giving, nothing more peaceful than living each moment of your life in worship.  Listen to David here, a man who lived as a worshiper in his heart…

Psalms 27:1 Light, space, zest — that’s GOD!  So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing. 2 When vandal hordes ride down ready to eat me alive, Those bullies and toughs fall flat on their faces. 3 When besieged, I’m calm as a baby.  When all hell breaks loose, I’m collected and cool. 4 I’m asking GOD for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long.  I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet. 5 That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, The perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic. (MSG)

David gets it…he knows where life is, where strength comes from the only quiet secure place He has…is His relationship with God, and because of Jesus, you can have that to, but it’s up to you.

Worship is a lifestyle where your focus on God allows you to walk through the difficulties of life with a different kind of strength.  It’s a lifestyle of living in gratefulness for all that He is doing.  It starts to change your view on everything, and you begin to understand that God gave you all of it, right down to every breath that you breathe…and that is an awesome, and humbling and beautiful thing to grasp.

When you live a life of worship it’s different than just singing songs.  It’s different than showing up on a Sunday morning and getting warm and fuzzy feelings.  A life of worship is a life of seeing God for who He is…seeing His greatness, His power, His love, and His compassion, and then giving Him what He is worth!  Which is the best of all of your time, your talents, your thoughts, your resources, and your actions.  A worshiper see’s God in all things.  So yes He can move mountains and yes he can shake the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble…He can move however He wants…But often He speaks in a whisper, often as Job says he moves quietly right in front of me and you know what He still is today.  To be a person engaging a life of worship is the only way we can ensure that we won’t miss Him.

That is my prayer for you today, that you will engage a life of worship, not just worshiping in a song or the big moments of life, but that you will be aware of God in all of it.  The big stuff is easy, to see Him in your everyday ordinary life is so special…because in that focus on God you won’t miss Him living and active in your life.  This starts and ends with you and the decision you may need to make to place God in the position in your life that He deserves…which would be first.  If he isn’t first, you can miss Him.