Worthy of Our Worship | Timothy "TA" Ateek

Timothy "TA" Ateek // Jul 25, 2023

Do you ever feel like your worship has become stale? Unfulfilling? Or maybe you feel that worship simply isn’t for you. As we continue in our series, Dust to Dust, TA walks us through Ecclesiastes 5 to show us five keys to true worship that is life giving and satisfying in your walk with the Lord.

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What's up, Porch? How are we doing tonight? You guys out there… I just want to make sure. How are we doing? Okay. Hey, good to see you. If this is your first time ever at The Porch, welcome. I am glad you made it. Thank you for trusting us with your Tuesday night. My name is Timothy Ateek, and I'm one of the teaching pastors here at Watermark on Sundays as well as here on Tuesdays at The Porch.

I want to give a special shout-out to all of our Porch.Live locations tuning in at different places in the nation. I'm thinking about Porch.Live Cincinnati, Porch.Live Tulsa, and Porch.Live Scottsdale. I'm so glad y'all are tuning in. I also want to give a special "Hello" to our deaf and hard of hearing friends who are in the room tonight.

I'm just going to try something new out tonight. I don't know how it's going to go, but I'm going to give it a whirl. We are glad that you are here. Thanks for coming. Hey, I want you to know… Let's be clear. If you have any friends who are deaf or hard of hearing, they belong here at The Porch. They belong here, not just on one night but on every Tuesday night, so make sure they know we have a place for them to come and worship with us.

Several years ago, my wife and I made a very, very unfortunate decision that I want to share with you tonight. We chose to try to fly on an airplane with a small child. That's it. That was a poor decision. You should never make that decision, ever, in your life. Here's the reality. When you are traveling with an infant, you are basically handing that child all of the control, and your trip just became one big coin toss. It's a game. You're either going to come out a big-time winner or big-time loser. Kat and I came out massive losers.

We were traveling from Austin to Birmingham, Alabama, with our first son Noah who was about 8 months old at the time. We came out major losers. It was the type of thing that when we landed in Birmingham, we felt like we had flown to Europe and had jet lag. We were contemplating only vacationing, from that point forward, in either Waco or San Antonio for about the next 18 years because it was so miserable.

We were on the flight, and for the majority of the flight, Noah was losing his ever-loving mind. We were trying everything we could to help him get comfortable and calm down, and that just wasn't working. It was a frantic situation, and because it was a frantic situation, I was frantic and Kathryn was frantic. So, we were frantic individually, and then we were frantic collectively.

I guess people around us could tell, because at the end of the flight, a man slid a note through the seat to me. I opened up the note, and on the note was a drawing. The drawing was of a triangle, and at the top of the triangle was the word "God," and then in the two corners was "Husband" and "Wife." Then there was a note that said, "The closer you get to God, the closer you will get to each other." Now, that's an interesting note to get when you're a pastor. I don't know what you do with that. I was like, "No duh. Signed, Pastor Timothy Ateek," and I folded it up and handed it back. No, I'm just kidding.

When I think about that experience, here's the reality. That guy was watching us, and at least in that moment, that guy could not see Jesus at work in my life. That's what you call hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is knowing the truth and not living the truth. At least in that moment, I was struggling, as a pastor, with hypocrisy. I was a person who knew Jesus, but I wasn't living like I did. I knew the truth, but I wasn't living the truth. There was information here, but there was no application here.

I tell you that because here's the reality: if you're a follower of Jesus Christ, we're all going to have times in our lives where we struggle with hypocrisy. If you're not a Christian, and you're like, "That's why I'm not a Christian…" Because when you look at different Christians, you're like, "Sometimes what you say you believe doesn't match how you live."

I'll just apologize on behalf of all Christians. It's something we're going to be working on for the rest of our lives. We never claim to be perfect. We only claim to know the one who is perfect, and that's Jesus Christ, who came and was perfect in our place. He made a way when there was no way for very imperfect people to be made right with a perfect God. But the reality is we're all going to have times where what we know doesn't match how we live.

If you think back to science in high school, if you think about the classroom and you think about the lab… If Tuesday nights are the classroom and the rest of the week is the lab where we go out and live what we learned in the classroom, sometimes we struggle in the lab. Interestingly, as we step back into the book of Ecclesiastes tonight and listen to the wisest man to ever walk the face of the earth besides Jesus Christ, as we listen to the words of King Solomon, he's going to say, "Hey, the problem goes even deeper."

The issue isn't just that we struggle in the lab; we can actually struggle in the classroom. So, we don't just struggle with hypocrisy sometimes when we go out and live out the rest of our weeks. We can actually struggle with hypocrisy doing what we're doing right now, when we gather together on Sundays for worship or on Tuesday nights for The Porch.

So, tonight is going to be a very unique type of message. It might throw some of you off, because you're kind of looking for the truth that you need to go out and live, and I'm actually going to talk about the truth you need to come in and apply when you come to The Porch or you come to church. Solomon is going to instruct us in how we live here. Here's the reality: God cares a lot about what is happening right now on Tuesday night. He cares a lot about what is going on with you in this moment. He cares deeply about it.

So, tonight might feel a little bit uncomfortable, because we're going to talk about the hypocrisy that might even be happening in our lives and in our hearts right now, right this second, and that's okay, because while we want to identify the hypocrisy, we have an opportunity even in this moment to pivot and move toward authenticity in relating to God even right now.

Because this is going to be a different type of message, here's what I want to do. I want to ask everyone in the room to take a moment and pray for yourself. Just really quick, take a second and say, "God, would you speak to me tonight?" Just pray those words. "God, please speak to me tonight."

Lord, I pray that you would do just that, that our ears would be open and our hearts would be receptive to whatever you want to say to us. Speak to us now. In Jesus' name, amen.

If you're here and you're not a Christian, this is actually a great night for you to be here, because tonight you're going to at least get an explanation for why we're even doing this, why thousands of young adults chose to get all of their steps in just walking from the parking garage to this building tonight. Like, what's the point? Why are we doing this? You're going to find that out right now. If you have a Bible, turn with me to Ecclesiastes, chapter 5. We're going to be looking tonight at verses 1-7. King Solomon is going to address how we worship when we come together on Tuesdays and Sundays. Here's what he says.

"Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words.

When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear."

Solomon is targeting our hypocrisy when we come together to worship. So, tonight I want to look at this passage and give you five keys to moving away from hypocrisy and moving toward authenticity when we come together to worship.

  1. True worship ascribes worth to God, not man. When we come together, when we sing, when we open up the Bible, true worship ascribes worth to God, not man. Look again at what Solomon says in verse 1. "Guard your steps when you go to the house of God." Why is he saying that? All he's saying is, "Hey, when you come to The Porch on Tuesday nights, think about what you're doing." Be careful. Take caution. Don't go into The Porch flippantly. Why? Because God cares what is happening here. God cares about the quality of our worship.

5 he goes on in verse 1. Look at what he says. The wording is very important. He says, "To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools…" Solomon is basically saying there are two different ways to worship on a Tuesday night or a Sunday morning, and one is much better than the other. The better way, the true worship, is one where when you come on Tuesday night, you are drawing near. The wording is you are drawing near to listen.

The question you should be asking right now is "To listen to whom?" Just evaluate. Who did you come here tonight to hear? It is our conviction here at The Porch… I think what Solomon is getting at is when you gather together, you come with the conviction that God is here. God is here, and he wants to speak to you. Did you come tonight with the expectation that the God of the universe actually wants to speak into your heart tonight?

The reason we teach the Bible every single week is that we believe this book is actually the Word of God. God went to great lengths to give it to us so he could speak to us through it as we open it and study it together. So, we are convinced that God is here. He wants to meet with us. He wants to speak to you and me, yet we can often come together in worship for other reasons than to hear from God.

I remember years ago, when I was in my early 20s, my best friend and I decided to drive out to Denton to a church where Tommy Nelson, who spoke at the beginning of the Ecclesiastes series… We drove out to his church. We had heard a lot of great things about Tommy Nelson. We totally wanted to hear him, so we made the 45-minute drive out there. We sat through the worship, and then someone other than Tommy Nelson got up to speak. When that guy got up, we got up.

Now I cringe thinking about it, doing what I'm doing right now. That guy got up. Everyone is seated, everything is quiet, and we're like, "Yeah, it's time to go to dinner." So we stood up and left. Why? We weren't there to hear from God; we were there to hear from Tommy Nelson. So, my question to you is…Who did you come here tonight to hear from? Did you come to hear from me? Did you come to hear from The Porch band?

Some of y'all are like, "I didn't come to hear from anyone; I came to meet someone, and her name or his name is not Jesus." That's fine. If that's what got you here, hey, I'm glad you made it, and I hope that works out for you, but now that you're here, let me encourage you to trade up. Trade up to an even better meeting. Trade up from something natural to something supernatural where the Lord of Lords and King of Kings actually wants to meet you tonight and wants to speak to your heart. Who did you come to hear?

I'll just say this. One of my concerns with your generation is that we live in a time where Christians are being celebritized. We are turning normal followers of Jesus into celebrities. I don't find that anywhere in the Bible. When I look in the book of Acts, which is where the people who started the church… If anyone was going to be a Christian celebrity, it would be the guys who got this thing kicked off. It's the guys like Peter. When he spoke, 3,000 people became Christians just like that. One message.

Yet when I look at these guys, these guys aren't being exalted; these guys are getting stoned. And I'm not talking about that type of stoned. For a minute there, some of you were like, "The Bible has never made more sense to me than right now." That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about rocks being thrown, enough of them that the people throwing them think the people they're throwing them at are dead.

Then those people they think are dead… Once the stone throwers are gone, they just get up and move to the next town and keep preaching the gospel. Many of them ended up dying for preaching the gospel. Yet we find ourselves in this point in history where there's a lot of podcasting. There's a lot of following and reposting. There's a lot of church hopping where it's like, "Where are the best speakers speaking?" You hear that someone is going to be here, so you go and listen to that.

There's a lot of listening and a lot of celebritizing, but there's little life change. So, let me just encourage you. Don't turn messengers into messiahs. They are terrible messiahs. They are sinners just like you and me. They are trying to follow Jesus one day at a time just like you and me. God has given them something to steward. God has entrusted them with a gift, and that gift exists for them to glorify Christ.

So, join them as they seek to glorify Christ, but don't glorify them as they glorify Christ. Don't be more in tune with what your favorite Christian celebrity is saying than what the Word of God says, because in the end, when you stand before Jesus, it's not going to work for you to be like, "Well, you know what JP says?" Jesus is going to be like, "Yeah, I know him. Do you know me?"

Okay. What's the better way? What did we say? We said true worship ascribes worth to God, not man. The word worship descends from a Saxon word that eventually became the word worth-ship, which I think is really telling about what true worship is. True worship is ascribing the proper worth to God.

When we come to The Porch to worship, we're saying, "Jesus Christ, you're worth it. You're worth it for me to park in that parking garage on the third story and walk down all of those stairs and across the parking lot. You're worth it. You're worth it for me to fight traffic. You're worth it for me to skip dinner because I was running late out of work. You're worth it for me to put work on hold for a couple of hours.

You're worth it for me to come into this place and find a seat. You're worth it for me to tune everything else out in my life. You're worth it for me to put my phone on 'Do not disturb.' You are worth it for me to lift my hands in praise or to get on my knees. You are worth all of it. That's who you are. You are worthy of it. You are worth it."

That's what we want to do when we gather together here. We're not just here to have a big event, to see how many people we can get into this place. If we all gather together, and we all snap a picture that we were here, but no one seeks Jesus more, this was a royal waste of time. We are here to meet with God. Here's the reality: if the God of the universe wants to speak to me, I don't want to hear from anyone else. I hope that's true for you as well.

Think about this. What will your story be tonight? When you leave here and go home, if you walk in and your roommate is like, "What did you do tonight?" your story could be, "You know what? I had an encounter with the God of the universe. What have you been up to?" That's a pretty good story. That's a pretty good night. True worship ascribes worth to God, not man.

  1. True worship has no autopilot. We are not trying to compete with Tesla here. Tesla is trying to make life efficient. You can push a button, and the car will drive itself so you can do whatever you want. Autopilot enables you to multitask, to do other things. That doesn't work when it comes to worship. True worship has no autopilot. Look again at Solomon's wording in verse 1. He says, "To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools…"

Which begs the question…What's the sacrifice of fools? Well, the sacrifice of fools is simply the opposite of drawing near to listen. So, if God is here, and he wants to meet with us, if he wants to speak to us, then the sacrifice of fools must be going to all the effort to come into this place and leaving… Like, you walk across the parking lot. You find your seat. You sit for an hour and a half, and then you walk back across the parking lot, you sit through traffic, and you never meet with God. That's the sacrifice of fools.

Here's the reality: it's a lot easier than you think to offer the sacrifice of fools. I am a pastor, and I am confessing that, over the years, there have been plenty of times where I've gone to church and gotten nothing out of it, and it has been 100 percent my fault. The worship has been great. That's not the issue. People have been preaching the Word of God faithfully. They've been proclaiming the gospel. The issue hasn't been with what's going on; it has been with what's going on with me.

So, what can it look like to offer the sacrifice of fools here at The Porch? What it looks like is you come in hot. The first song has started, so it takes you the first song to text your friends and find your seat and just get settled. Then the second song gets going, and you click into autopilot worship pretty quickly, which is amazing, because you will be singing every word to every song while your mind is somewhere totally different.

You can be singing every word, and you're like, "Oh my gosh. I've got so much to do tonight, and I'm way behind on laundry, and I haven't eaten, so where am I going to eat tonight? It really bothers me that she said that, and I can't believe he did that, and she's wearing that. That's crazy. And he's good-looking." Your brain can be everywhere while you are singing every word to every song. That's autopilot worship.

Then we pray, and I come up, and I have about one or two minutes to capture your attention before some of y'all will be like, "You know, he's not that funny tonight, and I don't know if I'm really feeling what he's talking about, so maybe this is a good time for me to leave, because I still do have all that work, and it would be nice to get a jump on my laundry." If you stick it out, and I pray, and then we get into the response song, you're like, "Now is my time to get a jump on traffic. If I don't leave now and get out of here early, I'm going to be sitting in a line out of that parking garage."

So, from the time you got here to the time you leave, nothing happens. There's no connection with God. What a waste of a night. It's not worth it. There's something so much better here for you. We're inviting you to reject autopilot worship. Why? Because the Lord of Lords and King of Kings is here. He wants to meet with us. He wants to speak to you. We're just inviting you into more.

  1. True worship is honest. Look back at what Solomon says in verses 2 and 3. "Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words."

Solomon is now targeting the words that actually come out of our mouths when we are singing songs together on a Tuesday night or on Sunday morning, and here is his point: because you are talking to God, think before you speak, because God actually cares about the words coming out of your mouth. He cares what we say in this moment.

God is most glorified when what comes out of our mouths on Tuesday nights or Sunday mornings is honest, that we aren't saying things that aren't actually true. But here's the thing. If we're not careful, we might find ourselves in an emotional moment just saying something we don't actually believe. It's kind of like this.

Some of y'all might find yourself in a dating relationship where y'all kind of jump headfirst into this thing, and it gets very serious very quickly, where you guys are spending all of your time together every single day, and it gets very physical and very emotional very quickly. Some of y'all might find yourself a month into dating, and it's late at night, and you're having this very physical, very emotional moment, and the only thing that seems right to say in that moment is, "I love you."

As it comes out of your mouth, you're like, "Noooo!" but it's already out. Then in the morning, you wake up and check your phone, and it's like, "I love you, my perfect man," and you're like, "Gosh, that escalated quickly." You said something in an emotional moment that you didn't actually believe. Some of y'all are like, "You are in my head." I can't help you with that situation, but when it comes to what's happening in here… (Maybe I can. Come down afterward. We'll talk about it.)

Here's the thing. The same thing can happen here. I mean, we have this massive LED screen. We have lights. We have smoke. We have an amazing band that leads us and amazing worship leaders. It's loud. There's energy. You look around, and everyone has their hands raised. In that moment, it can be so emotional you find yourself singing words to songs you don't actually believe. Just think about what we have sung tonight. In one of the songs we sang tonight, here's what we said:

Oh, I'm not here for blessings,

Jesus, you don't owe me anything,

More than anything you can do,

I just want you.

I just want you,

Nothing else, nothing else,

Nothing else will do,

I just want you.

Is that what you really believe? Like, "I don't want anything else. Jesus, if you don't give me another thing in my life…if you don't give me a boyfriend or girlfriend, if you don't give me a job…it doesn't matter, because the thing I want most is you." Or maybe the right words, instead of "Nothing else," were "Something else, something else will do, but it's not you." Maybe that is more what we think, if we were honest.

Or like this. I don't know if this is going to connect with you guys or not. Over the years, do you want to know what song people have messaged me and asked me about the most, asking if we could sing it? In the different ministries I've led, do you want to know what the number-one song is? Over the years of working with college students, do you know what it is? It's the song "Oceans."

I don't know if you remember the song "Oceans." Some of y'all, if we sang "Oceans," would be wrecked. You would be weeping. You'd just be on the floor. But I want you to think about what you're singing when you sing "Oceans." Here are the words:

Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders,

Let me walk upon the waters,

Wherever you would call me,

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior.

Do you understand what you're saying? You're saying, "God, I want you to take me to a place where I don't know what's happening. It's unpredictable. It can feel unstable. I can't see the result. I can't see how things are going to turn out. I can't see if all of my dreams are going to be fulfilled, but I'm there, and you're there, and that's all that matters, and that's all I want. I just want to be led by you. I just want you, but right now, I just want you to lead me where my trust is without borders."

Is that really what you want? If so, awesome. That's a great song to sing. That's a great prayer to pray. But what we don't want is you've got the lights and the screens, so you're like, "Yeah, I guess so. Yeah, let's do it," and then you walk out, and you're like, "Not exactly that." You know what? I wonder if sometimes the most worshipful thing we can do during the time of singing is to just be honest with God, to just look at the words and say, "God, I don't think I'm there yet, but I want to get there."

Or maybe, "God, you know what? I'm singing this not because it's true now but because I'm singing it in faith that you, by the power of your Spirit, could help it become true." What would it look like, honestly, for you to say, "God, I need you to know, for the last 10 minutes, I've only been thinking about what other people are thinking about me," because we all think everyone is always looking at us. "Honestly, I've been singing and worshiping for the approval of other people, that other people would look at me and think I am one of the spiritual people in the room."

Or what would it look like to be honest and say, "God, I'm playing games with you because I want something from you. I feel like if I get here and I go to all the effort to be here, and I sing passionately, then you're finally going to give me what I'm asking for." Or maybe, what if you were just honest and said, "God, I feel so much guilt. I feel so much shame. I feel so unworthy of being here. I feel like you don't want to have anything to do with me, so how could I even begin to sing these songs? Would you do something in my life? Would you forgive me? Would you wash me clean? Would you give me a new start?" That's honest. That is worship. That is true worship.

Solomon's message is "Think before you speak." Why? Look back at the wording. Verse 2: "Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God…" Why? "…for God is in heaven and you are on earth." He's just saying, "Hey, don't be too casual when you're talking to the God of the universe." Sometimes the best thing we can do when we come to a moment like this is to just pause.

That's why every Tuesday night…I don't know if you've noticed it…one of the worship leaders, whenever we start, always gives a moment for you to just be quiet before the Lord. Why? It's a great opportunity to remind yourself of who you're meeting with. You're reminding yourself of who you're talking to. It's good to remind yourself that our God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

He's a perfect Father who is loving and forgiving, and he delights in meeting with his children. He's Jesus. He's Savior. He's Friend. God is Holy Spirit, which means he's Counselor and Helper. At the exact same time, Jesus is also the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The God we're meeting with is the same God the nation of Israel met with at the base of Mount Sinai.

I don't know if you've ever read this in the Old Testament, but God speaks from the mountain. The nation of Israel hears God speak audibly, and for them it is a near-death experience. They run to Moses, and they're like, "If God speaks again, I don't think we're going to live, so here's the deal. We trust you. You go talk to God for us. (Good luck with that.) You go talk to him, and then you come back and tell us what he says."

It's the same God that John in Revelation… When he sees Jesus, he falls on his face, and he's like, "I think I'm dead." Jesus is like, "You're not dead, man. Get up." It's the same God. He's loving, forgiving, and gracious, and at the same time, he is holy, holy, holy. Because God is holy, holy, holy, let your words be few and sincere instead of many and fake.

  1. True worship impacts tomorrow. It changes tomorrow. Look at what Solomon goes on to say in verse 4. "When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?"

He's saying, "Do what you say you're going to do, and do it quickly." Here's what's really happening. Don't miss this. This is so important. There are going to be times where you come into this place, and you're meeting with God, and you're going to sense that God is calling you to do something very important.

Maybe even tonight you sense… You came into this place kind of one foot in and one foot out of Christianity. Maybe you've put Jesus on the back burner of your life, and you sense that Jesus is reaching into your life, saying, "You're with me. Go all in with me. Surrender fully to me. I want you, and I want all of you to come with me." Maybe you sense that God is reaching in, saying, "It's time to get out of that toxic, unhealthy relationship."

Maybe you sense that God is calling you to go on the mission field. Maybe you sense that God is calling you to forgive someone you've harbored bitterness, anger, and resentment toward for years. Maybe you sense that he's finally calling you out of an addiction to pornography, so you need to go to re:gen on Monday night or go to Courageous Hope if you're a woman who has experienced sexual abuse. Or maybe you need to go to one of the other ministries here…DivorceCare if you're a single mom in the room or GriefShare if you've lost a loved one. Maybe he's calling you out of isolation, and he's calling you to membership here at Watermark or to get into a Community Group.

Here's the thing. In moments like this, God can be very clear, and as he speaks into our lives, we might find ourselves, in the moment, saying, "Yes. Yes, God. I want to go all in with you. Yes, I agree. I need to get out of this relationship. Yes, God. I want to do what you're asking me to do." But if we don't go and do it quickly, then a fog can roll into our minds, and our Enemy, Satan, can begin to lie to us.

He can tell us things like, "Can you really imagine your life without him or her in it? Can you imagine how much you would be acquiescing if you went and forgave that person who hurt you? Can you imagine what people would think of you if you confessed that sin?" So, we might find ourselves in a place where a "Yes" in here becomes a "No" out there.

So, just think really quickly. Is there anything you've already agreed with God on? At some point in the past, God has called you to do something, and you said yes to it in a moment like this, yet the "Yes" in here became a "No" out there. If there's anything that comes to mind… Look. There is grace. You don't need to feel shame, but my encouragement to you is to take seriously the words of verse 4. Let me read it again. "When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow." Do what you said you were going to do.

Do you know what unbelievers need to see in Christians? I think a lot of people who don't know Jesus don't want to know Jesus because they look at the Christians and see hypocrisy. But do you want to know what the unbelievers at your work or at your gym or at your apartment complex need to see? They need to see Jesus changing your life.

I'm not talking about you just going out and trying to muscle up and be better. No, I'm talking about you, every day, just surrendering to Jesus, you leaving here tonight saying yes to Jesus in whatever he's calling you to. That begins to change you. When I say that true worship impacts tomorrow, I'm talking about getting up tomorrow and your "Yes" tonight still being a "Yes" in the morning.

Unbelievers need to see that Jesus actually is in the business of changing lives, because when unbelievers look into your life and see more peace, more joy, more selflessness, and more freedom, then an invitation to The Porch or an invitation to church is no longer an invitation to come hear music and a message; it's an invitation to meet Jesus, who is in the business of changing lives.

  1. True worship is how we say "Thank you" to Jesus. I just want to be very clear. I told y'all from the beginning this was going to be a unique message. It's going to feel different, because we're talking about what we're doing right now. My goal of this message isn't to introduce more restrictions into our worship; it's to introduce more reverence, more gratitude, and more authenticity.

Remember why Jesus went to the cross. This is the key. Remember why Jesus Christ went to the cross. If you're not a Christian, here it is. This is the point of Christianity. The point of Christianity is not bad people trying to become good people or moral people trying to be morally superior to other people. That's not Christianity. This is Christianity. First Peter 3:18: "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous…" The righteous. That's Jesus Christ, perfect Son of God. The unrighteous. That's us, imperfect human beings.

Why did he do that? Why did Jesus go to the cross and suffer, which means he went to the cross and was punished for all of our sins, all of our imperfection? He did it that he might bring us to God. That's it. That's the reality. No one is born right with God, and nobody gets right with God by just trying harder, because imperfect people cannot get themselves right with a perfect God. The great news is that a perfect God left heaven and came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. He lived the perfect life that we couldn't, and he died a perfect death.

The reason I say it was a perfect death is because it was perfectly suitable as a replacement for all of the imperfection of anyone who would put their trust in Jesus. Then he walked out of the tomb, conquering our sin and death, making a way when there was no way. This is the beauty of Christianity. This is the beauty of Jesus. He has made a way for imperfect people to come into a place like this and to stretch out our hands and worship God and hear from God; for God, the God of the universe, to delight in us as his children.

The beauty of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection is even in the moments, even on the Tuesday nights where we just go through the motions mindlessly and are kind of offering the sacrifice of fools… Do you know what the beauty of the cross is? That every moment is a new moment with Jesus. God is quick to forgive, and he's quick to welcome you into deeper intimacy and fellowship with him. Here's the reality. If you've been tuned out for the last hour and 20 minutes, God still wants to speak to you tonight. This is a moment now for you to meet with God.

Solomon finishes the passage by simply saying this. He ties it up. Verse 7: "For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear." All he's saying is when you just go through the motions mindlessly babbling on, just moving your mouth, going through the motions, that's vanity. It means that is frustratingly empty. It's like trying to hug a cloud. You're looking for satisfaction, you're looking for fulfillment, and you're not going to find it. What's the key? True worship. Fear God. It means come into this place and believe God is here and wants to meet with you.

So, here's how we're going to end tonight. It's going to look a lot like last week. I'm going to pray in just a minute, and then when I say, "Amen," here's what you need to know: you are free to go, but you're also free to stay. You're free to go, and if you're ready to go, when I say, "Amen," you totally can. I would just ask that you leave quietly so that anyone who wants to stay and worship for a little bit can worship.

If you want to stay, the band is going to come. The band is going to lead us, and you have the freedom to raise your hands or to get on your knees, to sit in your seat and pray, to just do business with the Lord. If you need a quieter place to worship, you can go up those stairs and out those doors into the prayer chapel, and you can just sit in a quieter place and meet with God.

If you need to come down front and pray with someone, we'll have people down front. If you need to go out to the welcome desk and say, "Look. I don't have a Bible. If God speaks to us through the Word, I want that," we'd love to give you one for free tonight. If you don't have a Bible, let us give you one.

Maybe tonight you're going to walk out there, and you're going to finally sign up for Launch, because Launch is an opportunity not just to meet people, but it's an extended weekend of just meeting with God together. Maybe you just need help taking your next step with Jesus. You need to talk one on one with someone who can help you take your next step with the church or with a Community Group. You can go out that door and up those stairs to the Loft, which will be our Next Steps. We just want to help. This is a place for us to meet with God. So I'll pray, and then the time is yours to worship.

Lord Jesus, you're worthy of everything. I thank you that thousands of young adults have gone to all the effort they have to get into this room, but since they're here, Lord, I pray that every one of them would meet with you, that, God, in your kindness you would speak to their hearts, that they would sense that you're meeting with them.

If there's anyone here who doesn't feel worthy of that, I pray that they would experience your grace and your forgiveness tonight, that they would know no one is too far gone and there is no one who can outrun your love for them tonight. So, come and have your way in our lives. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.