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Deeper Wider: Worship

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This morning, Pastor Ed Allen brought us a message about Worship from Psalm 95.  He said that Worship is a good way to approach the difficulties of life.

What Is Worship?

Biblical worship is the whole-life response to God -- head, heart and will -- recognizing who God is and what he has done.

The Psalmist begins in verse 1 with an unabashed appeal to our emotions.

Joyful exuberance is to be part of our worship diet.

In suburban America, we're trained to analyze, not to shout aloud with joy.

We do bear in mind that joy looks different on different people, but let's try together to nudge the needle up.

We're willing to have awkward moments to be honest to ourselves and pour out praise to God.

How do we engage emotion?  Start by recognizing who God is, recognizing his value.

The psalmist also challenges our will.  Verse six asks us to bow down, to kneel.

Finally, the psalmist extends a direct call to our thought life.  Move toward God with our minds (verses 8-11).

Verses 8-11 refer to complaining in the desert.  "Meribah" -- Quarreling; "Massah" -- Trouble.

Grumbling is a really big deal to God.  Stop it!  Grab your thoughts and pull them to God.  Keep your heart soft toward God.

Why Do We Worship?

1)  We engage emotionally because he's like no other God (verse 3).

In a general sense, worship means to ascribe ultimate meaning and value to something.

We already worship what we value most -- transfer what we already do -- to God.

2)  We engage our will because God takes care of us (verse 7).

3)  We engage our mind because of who God is and what he's done.

Grumbling doesn't go well for us.

People with addictions surrender their control to the addiction and order their life around it.  Whatever we value most gets that place.

We choose to worship God because through that act we are finally surrendered to one who fully deserves our surrender and who will care for us through our surrender.

How Do We Worship Well?

1)  If we're going to worship well, we have to engage with our whole selves.

We can come to church and just observe, but that's not worship.

Engage emotionally, surrender our will (Choose God); and direct our thoughts toward him (Listen to his voice).

2)  If we're going to worship well, we have to remember the why.

Keep in mind who God is.  He cares.  He's our Shepherd.  He offers us rest.

Hebrews 4 -- The full Rest of God is finally made available through Jesus.  We don't have to please everyone.  Follow a list of rules.  He offers Rest.

3)  If we're going to worship well, we have to join a worship community.

All the commands in this Psalm are corporate.  We need one another to worship well.

We need the support.  We need the wisdom.

Ephesians 3:14-19 -- We grasp how high and long and wide and deep God's love is -- together with all the saints.

Then we practiced what we'd learned by singing songs of worship.

Deeper Wider: Forgiveness

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Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his "Deeper Wider" series, choosing a passage to preach about from the section we were reading this week as a church, Matthew 18:21-35.

Before the sermon, during the 11:00 service, Kevin got up front and told how God healed his sister Cheri from leukemia, using a stem cell transplant from Kevin.  Our church and Cheri's church were praying for her -- and her body today is cancer-free, and her blood type has changed to match Kevin's.  So their family has much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

Then we read Matthew 18:21-35.

Forgiveness Is a Really Big Deal!

He read several studies, and first off, forgiveness is good for many different aspects of our health. 

We know it's a big deal -- even when we don't always do it.

Ephesians 4:32 -- Forgiveness is a big deal to God.

When we truly understand how much we've been forgiven by God (the size of the debt we owe) and the cost of that forgiveness to God himself, then we are compelled to freely forgive other people, even at great cost to ourselves.

In the story, the first servant owes somewhere around a billion dollars, and the other servant around ten thousand dollars.  The difference is huge.

This story brings up four questions:

1)  Why is the king able to forgive, but not the servant?  What's the difference?

It's not the size of the offence.  One was astronomically bigger -- but that was the one forgiven.  We're lying when we use the excuse, "But you don't know what he did!"

It's not a difference in the nature of the relationship.  They had the same subordinate relationship and made their appeals with the same words.

The difference has to do with the heart of the one offended.

2)  What is it about the king that enabled him to be forgiving?

The word for "Be patient with me!" is literally "long-suffering."  An offence creates emotional pain.

We have three options:  We can suffer passively and become a victim.  We can make the other person suffer (which also makes us a victim -- our life gets stolen by the offence).  Or we can actively take the suffering ourselves.

3)  Why don't we forgive?

Forgiveness is a process.

Forgiveness is hard work.

Why do we cling so tightly to being right (even when it increases our own suffering)?  Maybe we haven't truly understood just how much we've been forgiven.

When Peter asked if he should forgive "up to seven times," he must have thought he was being super generous.  There was a standard rabbinical answer for how many times you should forgive someone -- and it was three times.

Peter was looking for the limits.  This is how we manage our bad habits -- with limits and numbers.

When Jesus answered seventy-seven times, he was saying to forgive for infinity and beyond.

This requires a new understanding.

4)  What is forgiveness?

We have a glimpse in verse 27.  The master had pity on him, released him, and forgave his debt.

Pity -- It's related to the word for guts.  Being moved deep within ourselves.  He put himself in the place of the servant.

When offended, we highlight the difference between us and the offender.  We create a caricature of their character.  They become the offence.

Released him -- let him go.  When we can't forgive, we end up clinging to what happened.  As the saying goes, unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.

Forgave the debt -- He's free from the burden.  In fact, both are free from the burden.

Hebrews 12:15 -- Don't let a bitter root grow up.

And this was a perfect preparation to end our service with the Mercy Meal of Communion.

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