Recorded on January 13th, 2019
We forget just how powerful worship can be. Join us as Pastor Alissa Rothschild examines how prayer can change lives.
Transcript of Sermon:
[Music] I’m gonna be reading to you from Psalm 27 and Colossians 3 Psalm 27 verses 1 through 6 the Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear the Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid when the wicked advanced against me to devour me it is my enemies and my foes who shall stumble and fall though an army besieged me my heart will not fear though war will break out against me even then I will be confident one thing I ask from the Lord this only do I seek that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life and gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple for in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling he will hide me in a shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me and his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy I will sing I will make music to the Lord and then Colossians 3 1 through 4 since then you have been raised with Christ set your heart on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God set your mind on things above not on earthly things for you died and your life is now hidden with Christ and God when Christ who is your life appears then you will also appear with him in glory the word of God for the people of God thanks be to God indeed this past week I have had the opportunity of being in kind of a spiritual boot camp I went to seminary this week and I always go hoping and praying that God is going to do a work in me and hoping that it will do more than just learn some facts that I need to know to be the best pastor I can be or be the best Christian or human that I can be but this week I went and I was found myself in the middle of a spiritual cocoon I found myself praying and worshiping every day multiple times a day with my classmates people who were seeking God just like I was and it was in the middle of this week that I realized how far away from the central piece of worship I had moved in my life you know we’ve shared that a few years ago there was an accident that changed the life of my life and my family’s life significantly and we’re still learning how to live with all of those changes we’re still learning how to live our new normal and what I realized this week is that over the years the struggles of my daily life have drawn me away from the centrality of worship in my life I’ve allowed the struggles of my daily life to pull me away from the truth of God’s power in my life and this is a pretty typical average thing for us as humans to do when life comes up and down when there’s difficulties in life we we pray about them we work towards doing things better about them or trying to have a better life given what we’re what’s set in front of us but sometimes those three struggles become the focus they become the thing in our life and I realized this week that that is what I have been doing these past few years slowly but surely month after month year after year I have been falling away from the practices that had kept me so deeply ingrained in my relationship with Christ I pray regularly I worship regularly in church and I do it at home but there was something different about it and I wasn’t accessing the power that I used to be able to access when the struggles of my life weren’t the most weren’t the biggest thing in my life see is the difficulties of life pile on we lose our focus and what I was reminded of this week is that in order to be a warrior we must first be a worshiper in order to war in this world in order to confront our struggles in order to confront the daily struggles of this life the number one thing in our life must first be worship not just prayer not just Bible study but worship and this class was steeped in worship we began our day in worship we had multiple times throughout the day where we would stop and worship we weren’t necessarily lifting up specific prayers but we were simply focusing our minds resetting our minds on the King on our father on God and if we look at Scripture it’s undeniably clear that this is where our focus should be if we just look at the Book of Psalms which is the Bible’s prayer book really I mean honestly I know I’ve said this before but every time we talk about the book of Psalm I’m going to say it if you’re struggling and you don’t know how to pray go to the book of Psalm if you want to if you’re excited about something and you want to say thank you to God but you don’t know quite how to do it go to the book of songs if you want to shout joy if you want to rejoice go to the Book of Psalms it’s all here and in Psalm 27 we see an example of one of the reasons why the Psalms are so powerful because it’s not just prayer that you’re gonna see in the Book of Psalms what you’re going to see is that every prayer every word that is spoken by each author and granted most of them are spoken by King David or written by King David but every one of them is first surrounded by worship look at how Psalm 27 opens the first verse says the Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear the Lord is the stronghold of my life whom shall I be afraid this is a way of David’s entering his thoughts in his mind on the reality of God this life is a mess it is not always easy it is rarely easy for a significant period of time sometimes we have some good moments sometimes we have some good seasons but we know without question because Humanity is so broken that we will enter another season of struggle and we have to work to train our brains to focus on the truth of God and what David is doing here is saying his first words aren’t God please help me his first words are reminding himself and praising God at the same time that I should not be afraid there’s no reason for me to be afraid because I know that I am a child of God because I know that God has got my back that’s the first thing that David does and then then then he moves on to verse two he says when the wicked advanced against me to devour me it is my enemies in my foes who will stumble though an army besieged me my heart will not fear though war break out again me against me even then I will be confident do you see a request here from David there’s no request there’s nothing more than a statement effect David says I know I have enemies and I know that they are going to come at me but this I know more they are already in the process of falling because God is already at work in the midst of my struggles whatever struggle you have in your life God is already working with you in that struggle God is already doing amazing things unfortunately we can’t always see it we can’t always see the fruit of God’s work moment-to-moment day today sometimes we go through long periods of waiting for God to show himself to us sometimes we suffer for so long we wonder if God has completely forgotten about us and that’s why it’s so portent that every single day we go before the Lord and we say to ourselves and to God that we recognize that though we cannot see his work we know that he is working that though we cannot see the answer we know the answer is there and it’s in front of us you see what David is doing here is training his brain his training his heart in his soul to remember that no matter how hard it gets no matter how difficult the enemy is God is still there God is still God and God is actively right now in this moment working for you in your life or maybe it’s your child or your grandchild your husband your wife you see though an army besieged you your heart will not fear and though the war breaks out against you you will be confident because your God your God is already working in your favor and it’s interesting to me that David goes to God here in this prayer and in almost every prayer in the Psalms and he’s in distress things are not going well and it the first two things he says have nothing to deal with what he needs from God and in fact in this entire Psalm and then especially this section that we look at together 1 through 6 there’s only one thing that David asks of God did you pick it up when we were reading it together David doesn’t ask God to defeat his foes David doesn’t ask God to fix his problems David doesn’t ask God to be God David says one thing I ask one thing I would seek that I would be able to see your beauty that I would be able to be in your presence that I would be able to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life not all the days after I die not all the days after my life is over but in all the days of my life may I be able to sense you God may all the days of your life may I be able to witness your presence in my life may all the days of my life may I be able to be sensitive enough to your spirit to your guidance to your love and to your working that’s the only thing David asks may I be able to see you to sense you to feel you God in my life and I love this one to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord what what our days be like if the first thing we saw every single morning was nothing more than to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and I have no idea what that looks like but I remember in the times when my spiritual life was most vibrant my life wasn’t easy but my spiritual life was vibrant and I remember that this was the heart of my worship that when I came to God I came seat first seeking God’s presence it came first seeking God’s love I came first seeking a deeper understanding of who God is in my life now I have to be careful to make sure that I’m not telling you not to lift up your current settings to God we’ve talked a lot about prayer here together it’s important that you get to say whatever you need to say to God to lay it out before him to struggle with him to to wrestle with him that’s important but it can’t be the most important we have to surround it in our worship of God because if we want to be warriors if we want to be prayer warriors if we want to be warriors of against poverty in this world if we want to be warriors for the local church if we want to be warriors for children who are abandoned then we must first be worshipers if we want to be warriors against the struggles in our lives we must first be worshipers it’s been a long time since I simply asked God just to show me his presence that that was the focus of my time with God that that was the focus of my every day today in Bible study we were encouraged to look at every day as an adventure to wake up not necessarily looking at all your plans of things to do but to wake up and to ask God to take you on that adventure and to let you be open to where he takes you each step of the way the point is his presence the point is drawing nearer to him because the reality is as David shows us is that God is already working God is already moving mountains for us right now and then in verse 5 and 6 it says for in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock and then then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me and at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy and I will sing and make music to the Lord so first David acknowledges the work of God and then David asks that God allow him to be aware of God’s presence to be able to see the glory of God and then David again reminds himself and praises God for the fact that God is going to take David and shelter him and it’s when David is held tightly within the shelter of that tent and the cleft of his arm sometimes we’ll see when David is covered with God it is then that is the enemies that surround him will be defeated
[Music] sometimes we don’t get to see our enemies defeated the way we want them to be defeated and that’s a really hard truth about being a Christian honestly it’s one of the things that I try to tell new believers pretty early on you know we want to think that as we step into Christ that when we pray we’ll get exactly what we pray for exactly how we pray for it but God has plans that are different than ours and God has ways that are mightier than ours is God big enough in our lives for us to trust that his plan that his ways that the way he’s fighting our struggles is the best way is the most fruitful way you see worship is important because as east stanley Jones reminds us that whatever gets your attention gets you is that not true whatever gets your attention gets you sometimes on Sunday mornings I’m not giving you all I have because my kids are playing with kazoos in the front row and they’re getting my attention so they’re getting a little bit of me right but in my daily life I have the same struggle whatever gets your attention gets you so if in your daily life the majority of your thoughts are focused on the things that are difficult or on the things that you wish were different or on the pain that you feel every single moment of every day which we know is not fun but if that is the focus of our mind if it is the focus of our prayers then it gets us it has us it gets to own us do we want the struggles in our lives owning us I don’t but I have I have allowed the struggles of my life to own me for way too long you see the reason why we worship is well there’s many reasons but two really important things that happen in worship first is that it gets our focus on God and it enables us to have a good perspective a different perspective a godly perspective that’s hard this world is not full of godly perspectives this world says if you’re a Christian and you pray to God and you don’t get what you want that your God is false but that’s not true when we worship first when we recognize the power of God when we praise God for who he is when that’s the first thing we do our perspective is focused and it’s honed in on our Creator the second thing that happens when we worship which is so important worship causes us to turn away from ourselves I’m sure that anyone out here who has struggled significantly with something in their lives knows how incredibly inwardly focused you can become I remember saying to a friend one day that I’m so just sick and tired of myself I’m tired of thinking about this I’m tired of praying about this I’m tired of all of this it’s just I was so tired of letting this be all that my life was it doesn’t change the fact that it’s there and it doesn’t change the fact that your struggles are real but when we worship we’re getting the focus off of us and in that alone there’s some relief
[Music] see the greatest value of praise is that it decentralizes us and it lifts up God you see when we only lift up our struggles this is important we end up telling God how big our enemies are instead of telling our enemies how big our God is I’m gonna say that again when we let our struggles rule when we put our struggles up high when our struggles become our focus what happens is we tell our God how big our struggles are instead of telling our enemies how stinkin big our God is how big is your God our God is mighty and he’s bigger than any struggle that we have but when we get mired in our struggle we get so focused on that that we start to believe that our struggle is bigger than our God and so when we worship and affect what we’re doing is enthroning God in our situation you see for the past three years my situation my struggle has been king my struggle has been sitting on the throne that has been reigning over my life but I’m a child of God you are a child of God does your struggle get to sit in the throne room of your life I’m gonna say no in first caleche call in Colossians 3 says since then you have been raised with Christ set your mind on things above where Christ is seated seated at the right hand of God set your mind on things above not on earthly things for you died this is reality in our lives the kingdom is now an to come we have died and our life is now hidden with Christ who is in God and with Christ who is in your life appears then you will also appear with him in glory and this is important let me tell you what you and I are children of God God we enthrone you over every situation in our life and then Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God the hand of power and you and I as children of God are seated right now at the right hand of God with Christ you and I are sitting in the throne room at the right hand of God we are not victims we do not get to be pawns of this world we do not get to let our struggles rule us because you and I do our warfare as children of God at the right hand of God with Christ in the throne room but we first have to make the choice to allow God to be enthroned over our problems it’s a reality but are we going to choose to live in that reality or are we going to choose to live in the reality of our daily struggles which I’m not saying is easy I know it’s not easy when every moment of every day of your life is nothing but battle is nothing but struggle I know that’s not hard but I believe with everything in my heart that if we can shift our focus to worshiping God to worshiping what God is already doing and to worship what is to come through God’s power there will be a lifting in your life a lightness in your life your troubles probably won’t go away just like that but you will feel a release that will mean a lot as you sit in the throne room with Jesus you know I hate people not I don’t hate people I’m sorry that was a bad pause I don’t hate people I just like people who read the last chapter or the last page of a book before they read the whole book because I’m a rule follower and books were made to be read from the beginning to the end even with shows if somebody says watch this show if it’s like two seasons in well I’m not gonna watch the show starting season 3 no way I got to see it from the beginning because I want to know every twist and turn I want to know all the nuances I want to know all the characters I want to know exactly how it’s gonna happen the funny thing is is that as Christians we’ve read the last page we know exactly how our struggles are going to end we know without question that you and I will reign victorious over whatever it is in our lives because Christ is our king the part that you and I struggle with is not knowing all the nuances is not knowing the backstory is not knowing how God showed up in every twist and turn we want all of the other pages but can’t it be for us right now enough to simply know that in the end we stand victorious with Christ our King at the right hand of God in the throne room amen so may you and I together this day this week this year intentionally choose every moment of every day to enthrone God over our lives the good the bad all of it let’s pray got together as a community as a body of believers we enthrone you over the struggles in our lives we enthrone you over the struggles of our family’s lives God we know that you are king we know that you are mighty we praise you and we thank you for already being at work and the start and the struggles of life for whatever hearts are holding in here right now we thank you that you are already making a way for us for victory and God we will work to find peace and not knowing what every twists & turns going to look like we will work hard to find peace and knowing that victory may look different than we want it to look but God we thank you with all that is in our hearts and our souls for your love for your grace and for the mercy that never ends it’s in the name of Jesus whose blood is shed for us for our sins and so that we can stand supreme over all that holds us back in this world that we pray amen