Nurturing/ Teaching Courses
The Heart of Worship: A Life That Is Pleasing to God
Text: Colossians 1:9-14
Dr. Alex Tang
The heart of worship is a life that pleases God. The life that pleases God bears good fruit, is growing in the knowledge of him, has endurance and patience and is joyously thankful.
Paul wrote Colossians during his first imprisonment in Rome, probably during 61AD. Paul has never visited Colosse when he wrote this letter. During his three years ministry in Ephesus, he probably converted Epaphras who returned to his hometown of Colosse and set up a church. Five years later, Epaphras heard of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome and came to visit him with news of his growing church. He also told Paul of a growing heresy influencing the church – Gnosticism. This heresy is a syncretic Jewish-Greek-ascetic-Pagan cult. Paul’s way to defend against this heresy is by emphasizing the deity of Jesus Christ which is the main theme of Colossians-the deity of Christ. The key verse in Colossian is 2:9: COL 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form
The emphasis is belief (chapter 1-2) and behaviour (chapter 3-4)
If you believe that Jesus Christ is God, then you will want to worship him. If you want for him, you will want to please him for the heart of worship is pleasing God.
2. Bible exposition
For this reason, since the day we heard about you,
we have not stopped praying for you
and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will
through all spiritual wisdom
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord
and may please him in every way:
bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God
being strengthened with all power
according to his glorious might
so that you may have great endurance and patience,
and joyfully giving thanks to the Father,
who has qualified you to
share in the inheritance of the saints
in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son
he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
3. Life pleasing to God.
3.1 Bearing good fruit
A plant is known by the fruit it bears. Good tree bear good fruits, bad tree cannot bear good fruits. A tree that does not bear good fruit is not pleasing to God.
LK 6:43 "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Pleasing God means bearing good fruit. Bearing good fruit can only come from a pure heart. How do we develop purity in our heart?
§ Allowing the Holy Spirit work in our lives.
This means we seek to be continually be filled with the Holy Spirit and listening to his voice and following what he teaches us. Then we shall bear the fruit of the Spirit.
§ Be careful of our speech.
§ Develop a life of integrity.
“We gonna walk the talk”.
A Native American tale tells of the elder who was talking to a disciple about tragedy. The elder said, “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is vengeful, angry, violent. The other is loving, compassionate one.” The disciple asked, “But which wolf will win the fight in your heart?” And the holy one answered, “It depends on which one I feed.”
3.2 Growing in knowledge of the Lord
§ Knowing the Word of God.
§ Regular intake of the Word: quiet time, Bible study, sermon listening, courses, memorizing Scripture.
§ Internalizing the Word of God. We should know the Word of God so well that it is not only in our conscious thoughts but it is in our subconscious. I love the story of a ninety years old committed Christian lady who was undergoing surgery. In the recovery room after the surgery, she was heard to be murmuring to herself. When the nurses lean close to her, they found she was quoting Scripture! That’s having the Word in our subconscious.
§ Seeing God working in our lives
§ Spiritual milestones
§ Examen of consciousness. We need to develop a habit of reviewing the day before we drop off to sleep each night. To think of all the happenings in the day. Could we have handled the situation better? Could we have given someone a little kindness? Do we have to get angry? And if we discover that we have sinned, we should then confess and repent. If we find that we harbouring resentment, we should forgive and release the resentment.
§ Serving one another.
We can experience great empowerment and experiential knowledge of God when we launch into ministry, whether to serve each other in the church or to reach out into the community. Each of us has a role to play. There is this testimony from a pastor. He said there is this little old lady in his church who sits in the front row with her head bowed, apparently asleep during his sermons. This went on for about 20 years and the church grew from a small church to a big one. One day, the old lady was dying and this pastor went to visit her. He asked her, “I hope you don’t mind but why have you been sleeping during my sermon every Sunday, all these years”. She replied, “I wasn’t sleeping. I was praying for you!” And who knows how much of this pastor’s ministry success is due to this little old lady’s prayers. Each of us has a job to do.
3.3 Endurance and patience
§ Knowing God’s purpose for our lives.
§ Drawing on the power of God
Being a disciple of Christ is not easy. Of course, there are good times like special blessings, miracles, answered prayers and warm fellowship. But there are also difficult times with painful struggles. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt us from pain and suffering. Christians die from sickness and old age like every one else. Christians feel pain like everyone else. It is when all the chips are down, when all seem hopeless and a lost cause, it will be our commitment that say, ‘in spite of it all, I will go on and trust the Lord’.
3.4 Attitude of Thanksgiving
§ Recognizing what God has done for us.
Just think, what is there in all that you have that did not come from the Lord? You did not choose your birthday. You did not choose your parents. You did not choose your genetic code. You did not create the opportunities that gave you an education, choose a mate, have children, and build a career. The man who sang “ I did it my way” is a fool. God did it or gave you the opportunity to do it. So do not be proud of an illusion and give thanks to whom it is due.
§ Developing a thanksgiving lifestyle.
Let us wake up every morning, before we open our eyes but after we turn off the alarm clock, thank the Lord. Thank Him for another day. Thank Him for the night’s rest. Thank Him for protection during the night. And let this attitude of thanksgiving of the Lord set the tone for the rest of the day. Keep on thanking Him as you do your stuff during the day and praise and give thanks to Him before you drop off to sleep.
4. Concluding remarks
The heart of worship is living a life pleasing to God. This heart is not developed in isolation. It is not developed by withdrawing from the world and living like a monk or nun, although it will help to withdrawn from the world now and then for prayer and reflection. The heart of worship is developed in a community. In a church or a family where there is mutual love and care for another.
John of the Cross has been called the greatest mystic in Christian tradition. Born in Spain, he entered the Carmelite order at age 20 years old. His extraordinary mystical experiences, his writings and poetry made him one of the most studied Christian mystics. He is the one who wrote The Dark Night of the Soul. One of his greatest poetry is the Living Flame of Love, which described his loving union with God. He wrote it when he was imprisoned in Toledo for 9 months because of his church reforms. In a dark narrow cell in solitary confinement, he wrote the Living Flame of Love. One would imagine that in another person, such dark experience would destroy him rather than making him one the Christianity’s greatest mystic. John of the Cross had a heart of worship. He bears good fruit, grew in this knowledge of God, had endurance and patient and has an attitude of thanksgiving until the end.
Soli Deo Gloria
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