This fall we are in a very important conversation.  What we are talking about is incredibly important, but I would also say it is the most ignored area of our lives.  We are talking about and focusing on the soul.  This has allowed us to talk about the areas of our lives that so many of us are struggling with these days, our inner worlds, and our emotional and mental health.  I think for many of us we just don’t see or understand that our spiritual health and soul ties directly to our inner worlds and our emotional and mental health.  This is probably a new thought for you to process, but it is an important one.  Our soul is tied directly to our mental health and inner world.   We are spiritual beings, with a soul.  When God created us, He made our bodies, which is just a shell, a carrier for our soul, and He put a soul in us, breathed life into our soul, and it brought us to life.  Your soul is what makes you, you!  We humans are spiritual beings and must care for our souls.  With that said we must see that there is no irony in the fact that we sit in the middle of a mental health crisis while culturally and as a people, we choose to distance ourselves from God more and more each day.  We are ignoring our souls and it is destroying us from the inside out.  It’s not ironic that as we distance ourselves from God or remove Him from our lives, we struggle internally.  We must care for our souls.  We are profoundly spiritual beings with a soul.  Your soul is the source of your life; if you ignore it, it becomes the source of your pain.  So, this is an incredibly important conversation talking about this profoundly important and often ignored area of our lives.  This has given us a chance to talk about things that are way too popular in our world today, and we want you to see that so many of these painful realities and struggles come down to your soul and how it is being cared for…or not.  We want you to see that a spiritual being with a soul must understand that the soul needs to be cared for because when it is ignored it is the source of our pain.

Today is a turning point in this series where we move from these internal battles we struggle with in our souls and move to how we restore our souls.  But let’s think about where we have been for a moment.  We have had some challenging conversations on things that so many of us are struggling with in our lives, things that we may have never realized are spiritual issues as our soul processes things in our lives.  We talked about discouragement, which is how our soul processes the circumstances of our lives.  We talked about depression, which is how your soul processes regret.  We are talking about anxiety which is how your soul processes fear.  We talked about our value and self-worth which is how our soul processes God’s love and acceptance of you, and last week Ken concluded this portion of the series with a very important conversation on sin.  Sin is how our soul is processing who will run the show in our lives, and the tension between living ourselves or living for God.  We may have never seen it this way, but that inner struggle, that battle within you, is all about your soul.

Now today the series really shifts, and we move from seeing the struggles of our soul and how important our soul care really is into a hopeful and important conversation on how we truly restore our souls.  I’m going to give you the secret right now, in one word, but a word that is so important, so big, and with so many important ramifications in our lives that we will walk this conversation all the way through Thanksgiving…are you ready?  Here’s the key, the secret to restoring your soul.  It’s

Worship – We restore our souls through worship.

So, you may hear that and think, ok, how does singing a few songs on a Sunday morning lead to my soul being restored?  Well, that is where we need to start, worship is so much more than singing songs on a Sunday morning.  We need to understand what worship is because it is so critical to our lives, it literally restores and brings life and energy to our souls, and we now understand just how important the health of our souls truly is.

So, what is worship?

Worship is when we give our deepest affection and highest praise to something. True worship of God is when we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s when we prize God above everything else and put Him first in our hearts.  I can give you two interesting Scriptures that paired together can show us the true depth of worship.  First, check this out in Deuteronomy…

Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. NIV

So, God wants us to love Him with ALL our heart, ALL our soul, and ALL our strength…and listen to what Jesus says here as he quotes the prophet Isaiah, as he confronts the religious people, you know those people who looked so good, and Godly while not living out their faith…they are missing it, they are performing practices but not worshiping…and God wants our worship.

Matthew 15:8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'” NIV

So many people misunderstand worship.  For some, they think it’s the songs we sing on a Sunday morning, for others they know it’s more than that, but the idea of ALL of us being God’s, just isn’t something we are willing to do.  But this is what it means to worship…to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your strength, and all your soul.  Now we literally exist to worship, to give God glory and love, it is why we were created.  So, it’s another one of these things God wired into us that we are drawn to do, and when we don’t put that into God we tend to go out into this world and do it elsewhere.  We will worship something, and we are.  This is another way the enemy keeps us from fully connecting with God and living with a vibrant soul, he pulls our worship off of God and onto other things because we were designed to worship, and we all worship something.  Worship is when we give our focus, love, affection, and highest praise to something, and I want you to understand that SHOULD be God, but if it isn’t God…it is going somewhere, towards something in your life.  Anything can be worshiped.  For some people, it’s their material possessions or their jobs.  For some, it’s their sports teams or a hobby.  For others, it’s their money, something, or someone but they are placing their worship into something because we were created to worship…and we will worship.  What wrecks our soul is when we pour our worship into the wrong things.  And the opposite is true too.  Worship is when we give our deepest affection and highest praise to something. True worship of God is when we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s when we prize God above everything else and put Him first in our hearts.  It is why God made us, and without it, we struggle, with a heart of worship our souls are restored, and we come fully alive.  Listen, in the end, there is only one thing that God wants from you.  He wants your love.  It’s the one thing He asks for over and over again in our Bibles.  We could really have some fun listing out verse after verse of God asking for our worship, our love, our devotion but let’s go back to that verse we read earlier…

Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. NIV

Just for fun let’s add one more…

Exodus 20:2 “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. 3 “You must not have any other god but me. 4 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods… NLT

So, you may be thinking, “OK Sam.  Where are you going with this?  We were talking about mental health issues and the pain I’m feeling in my inner world, and now you are explaining worship to us, how does this help me, I’m a mess, and I’m dealing with and trying to work through so much pain in my life.”  It’s the right thought, and we are on the right subject because it’s worship that restores our soul.

Let’s slow down, and let’s get personal today and talk about worship and our souls.  I want you to ask yourself some questions.  How are you doing on the inside?  Be honest and think for a moment here.  Are you walking in true inner peace today or would you say you are hurting, stressed, and walking in inner turmoil?  Let me ask it another way, would you say that you are walking in peace or chaos in your life?  Would you say that your life feels whole and complete?  Are you truly feeling at peace and satisfied, or do you feel stress, turmoil, and restlessness?  Now I know we are in church, and because we are Christians, we like to appear poised, mature, and at peace but be honest here, because this is very important, and I want you to see something about your life.  The only way to feel complete, and whole, and to walk in this type of peace is to walk in step with God.  It’s to be living a life of worship.  It is the only way to find true restoration and life for your soul.  We were created by God to worship Him, when we don’t, and turn to other things, it destroys us from the inside out.

So, I could simplify your inner world and soul care and inner health down to this.

The closer you are to God, the better you will feel.  The further you are from God the worse it will get.  If you want to find peace, joy, life, and life to the full it will only happen as you turn to God and give Him your worship.  Which is ALL your heart, mind, strength…and soul.   If your soul feels restless and empty, it is telling you something, it’s sending you a message, and asking you to turn to Your Heavenly Father!  If you continue to refuse, it only gets harder from here.  We were created By God to worship Him, and when we pull away from Him or worship something other than God, we feel it.

So, before we jump into something I want you to see in the heart of worship, let’s talk for a moment about why this sounds so much easier than it is to live out.  Your soul is restored and brought to life as you live a life of worship.  We live in the middle of a Spiritual Battle that is being fought over our souls.  The way to restore your soul is through worshiping God.  The closer you are to God the healthier and more alive you become.  The closer you are to Him the purer and truer your heart becomes and the more alive your soul becomes.  Which is the last thing your enemy wants.  The last thing your enemy would ever want to see is you living a life of worship.  This is why we live in a world full of distractions and things that block us or turn our worship away from God and onto other things…and we need to talk about it.  Everything I said sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?  But while it is simple in concept, it just isn’t all that easy to live out in our lives because of the challenges, distractions, and painful realities that we walk in each day.  In life it can be difficult to stay focused and centered on God…can’t it?

For so many of us, we may have moments of time when God matters most.  When we are truly walking in step with Him, and quite frankly, those are typically times when we are very aware we need Him in our lives.  Maybe someone is sick, or we are in a tough spot, but it is very rare to see someone truly make God first in their life the way He asks…no that is the wrong word, the way God commands us to live our lives.  We are to give Him all our focus and love…we are created to worship.  We are spiritual beings with a soul, and our soul is brought to life through worship.  Your soul needs worship just as your car needs gas or your body needs water and oxygen.  When we starve our souls, and we don’t nourish our souls, well, we pay for it, and as a culture and people choosing to pull away from God and give our worship to anything but God…we are paying for it.   This world is feeling it every day as we pull further and further away from God.  Today, I want to show you one of the enemy’s biggest strategies that block us from living all in for God.  This is one of the big blockers from us living true lives of worship but let me frame where we are heading here for the rest of the Soul Series.

We are going to talk about restoring our souls through worship.  We are going to look at what worship is and what it is not.  We will get into the heart and motives of worship, and what it can truly mean to our inner worlds as it brings life and restores the soul.  We will see many different concepts of what worship is along the way, and I can’t wait.  It is hard to talk about worship and not look at the life of David, and his words in Psalms.  I mean, God did say that David was a man after God’s own heart.  Quite frankly, that means David is a worshipper who understood how to prioritize and live for God, and the importance of worship in His life.  So, as we start to turn into the heart of worship, I want to show you something David says in Psalms 40 that seems to be a theme throughout Scripture…and you know when something is repeating itself in God’s Word, it is a big deal.  So check this out.

Psalms 40:4 Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,” ignore what the world worships. MSG

Today we are going to focus on a specific concept of worship, and that is the heart or motive behind it.  We are going to see a theme develop in our Scriptures which is showing us one of the big blockers to us becoming the worshipers that would bring our souls to life.  Let’s start here.  We must understand that we do not worship to get something out of it.  We worship to be with God, to engage in a relationship with Him, to simply be with and in His love.  I love that line from David there in the Message version because we are to ignore what the world worships, turn our back on what makes sense to us humans, and turn into God and simply give ourselves to Him.  Well, that isn’t all that easy to do, is it?

I know many people who love God, who are struggling with their souls today.  I know many frustrated Christians who secretly are wondering why their faith just doesn’t seem to work.  People who are walking in a ton of pain and frustration because they love God and go to church and keep hearing about this inner peace and amazing life that Christianity seems to advertise while never experiencing it.  They look around and wonder why God isn’t coming through for them, or why it seems to work for some people and not for them, but deep down there are some challenges they aren’t seeing or willing to face.  David says, blessed are those who give themselves over to God and turn their backs on the things that make sense to the world and ignore what the world worships…and quite frankly many of us just aren’t willing to go there. We want God to take some pressure off our lives.  We want God to make sure everyone is healthy in our lives.  We want God to make everyone around us “likes” us. We want God to provide all the things we want in life, to give us comfort, wealth, and happiness.  We want God to make life look “right” to us in this world, through our human eyes…while not understanding that a worshipper doesn’t go to God to get something from Him, but to simply be with Him in His love and to love Him.  So, here’s what I want you to see today.

Your Wanting Can Block Your Worship.  

Have you ever thought about your faith and asked yourself what your personal motives are?  Why are you a Christian?  What do you expect from God?  What are you chasing?  These are important questions that need to be answered because the way to restore your soul is to worship, and worship is not about you getting it is about God, His love, and His giving.  In fact, your wanting can block your worship which damages the soul.  Jesus says it this way, almost echoing David here…

Luke 12:29 “What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. 30 People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. MSG

So many Christians are struggling today because they are so preoccupied with getting that they can’t relax and truly enjoy God’s provision in their life.  Worship is how we restore and rejuvenate our souls.  So, can I ask you, are you able to enjoy life?  Are you enjoying what God is up to in your life?  Can you relax?  Are you OK with what you have?  Basically, are you okay with what God has provided you in life or are you restless, feeling unfulfilled, looking around at what everyone else has and just wanting more?  A worshiper is at peace because they have turned their backs on the world’s ways and desires and are enjoying what God provides in their life.

I want you to see and begin to walk with a different kind of focus through the challenging and difficult moments of life that will continue to hit your life.  Everything comes down to your relationship with God, the closer you are, the more in step you are with Him, the better off and healthier you will be.  Your enemy knows it and designs a world and culture full of things that block us or pull us away from our worship or love of God and both David and Jesus are pointing to something here that we need to see.  The world and our human instincts push us to want more and more, and our wanting can block our worship, and it’s our worship that leads us to a healthy soul.  When we covet or want in our lives, we can not find peace or contentment with God and His love and provision in our lives.  All through God’s Word, we see this theme, we are told to pull away from the world and its instincts and live for God…

1 John 2:15 Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. 16 Practically everything that goes on in the world — wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important — has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. 17 The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out — but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. MSG

A person with a heart of worship is giving God all of themselves and pulls away from the world’s wanting, wanting, wanting.  They are at peace with God and His love and trust His provision and all He has given them.  So, as we move into this conversation on how to restore our soul through worship, we must understand something, we live in a world that is tempting us to slide into competing, comparing, and wanting all that everyone else has, thinking we should have it too.  The enemy wants you to look around and not be pleased or happy with what God has provided you in life.  We could call this coveting or jealousy, but it is a major way the world blocks us from the one thing that we were created to do, and that is worship.  Your wanting can block your worship and without worshiping God your soul dries up and becomes the source of your pain.  Worship restores our souls and allows us to relax.  We find peace because we are completely content with what God provides us.  This theme is found all through our Bibles, and we need to see it.  In fact, David wrote Psalm 23 which in so many ways tells us how to restore our soul, and we see this again.

Psalms 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  NIV

Do you see it?  It is all through Scripture.  When God is the leader of my life, I shall not want.  We read earlier that if the world is running the show in my life, it’s a life of wanting…wanting to look good and important, and that mentality squeezes out our love of God.  And what did Jesus say earlier?

Luke 12:29 “What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. MSG

This is a big moment for us today.  We were created to worship.  When we worship God, our soul comes to life.  When we turn away from God, our souls dry up and die.  Your enemy knows it and does whatever he can to block you from worship…and one of the biggest ways he does this is by using the world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting.

Your wanting can block your worship. 

Listen, we love you so much, and we want to see you walking in your best life possible.  The way through is to live as God created you to live.  You are a profoundly spiritual being, created with a soul, to worship God…to place ALL your heart, mind, and soul in Him.  The closer you are to Him, the more you engage Him the better off you will be, and the opposite is also true.  The further you are from God, and the more you put your heart, mind, and soul into this world and all its wanting ways…the more difficult and painful life becomes.  So, I really want you to take a moment and reflect on a few things today…

What do you worship?  If you aren’t sure let me help you, what gets your focus, your energy, your thoughts, your time, your money, and resources?  What do you talk about all the time?  Remember worship restores your soul, and when we aren’t worshipping God but other things, it is the source of our pain.

Are you restless or able to relax in what God provides you?  Do you see what others have and wish you had what they had? Are you content or are you wanting?  Remember your wanting can block your worship.

What are you looking for from your relationship with God…from your faith?  Have you ever really thought about that?  Is it about engaging God and living in His love…or do you want God to do some things for you?  Remember your wanting can block your worship.

What do you need to repent of, eliminate, and get distance from in your life that is pulling you away from God-focus and being able to live for Him and not yourself?  What is it?  Are you willing to remove things from your life, to live your life fully for God…to live a life of worship?  Remember your wanting can block your worship.

What would you need to do to get to a place where you truly relax in God’s provision in your life?  Remember your wanting can block your worship.

Worship restores your soul, today we looked at what worship is, and what can block us from it…imagine what life could be, if we could get to this heart of worship, and live for Him…if we could let go of the world’s wanting and distractions, and just relax in Him, so how are you processing your life and what God has given you?  Remember your wanting can block your worship.  Your enemy knows it and is doing his best to keep you focused on the world’s ways, and all “it’s wanting.”  So how are you doing with this today?  What is your soul, your inner world trying to tell you today?  What would it take to live fully for God?  All in…heart, mind, and soul?