Jesus told us the greatest command is to “Love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark 12:30). In other words, we are to love God with our head, heart, and hands. The following prayers reveal our earnest desire and hope for our body with regard to this command.
Keeping the Head, Heart and Hands the Way God Wants Them
Many Hands, One Body
Navigating The Heart
Change Your Mind, Change Your Life
Well, good morning. Please be seated. We're going to just kinda keep the focus on the words we've already sung this morning. I love the way we started today by just saying, "Hey, we're not here to go through some religious experience or to do what we believe a god wants us to do in a few short moments to pay some tax to his sovereign power." What we are here to do is to remind ourselves of the goodness of God, the kindness of his will and way, and the blessing it is to know him, to walk with him, and to remember what he has done to allow that to be even possible.
Honestly, if it weren't for the grace of God, our desire to be near God wouldn't just be impossible, it would be suicidal, because God has no toleration for sin, which means he has no toleration for men like me apart from his gracious work in my life. What we have to do is come in here on a regular basis and remind ourselves God has done something about the fact that we're nothing like him. He's not angry at us. The condition of the world we're in, the choices we make, are a judgment in and of themselves.
The way the world is today is not because God is punishing us; it's because we are punishing ourselves by rejecting his kindness and his goodness. I don't know where you have been this last week. I don't know your story, but I know God wants to bless you. I know he wants it to go well with you. I know you could have lived a godly, Spirit-yielded life and still had a lot of pain, because you live in a world that is still on the course of rebellion against him. You live in a world where there are still many who don't walk in his way. Creation itself has fallen with us.
Those of us who, by his kindness, have not contributed to evil or haven't brought evil on ourselves still need to be reminded that this world is not our home, that God is going to make it right, that we can hang on, still honor and love him, even though things are not as we want them to be. Then I would offer this to you, especially if you're a guest. God desires that you don't go through this valley alone.
Way too often, people show up here needing us to immediately respond to a crisis when we have no relationship with them, no context to know if helping them is really going to be continuing a cycle and a pattern of crisis/repair, crisis/repair or if they've been walking in wisdom and righteousness and just trouble has befallen them, and we should come along in every way that's appropriate in that moment. Now listen. If you show up in a crisis, we still want to help you, but the process takes time.
What I don't want to do is have you be an individual who is separated from the body, who when you start to bleed out need a body that will accept your appendage grafted onto it. When my toe gets jammed, it doesn't take my head long to get involved. It knows immediately how to care for it because it's connected. It's part of my body. God wants you to be a part of a body, so when something is going on other people see it. We love you and we care for you, but you've got to connect.
I want to remind you why we're connecting here this morning with God. It's not so we can impress ourselves or others with our devotion. If you are in the middle of working through God's Word with us… We try and create an expectation around here that all of us are feeding our hearts and minds, at a minimum with a certain section of Scripture we are all to be conversant in. We understand if our hearts are not continually fed by truth on a daily basis, we're going to get ourselves in a lot of trouble.
What we did a number of years ago is go, "How can we get everybody at Watermark who is a member here to be thinking, talking, and processing the same things?" What we decided to do was, rather than you coming here on a regular basis, we would bring the Word of God to you and give you a format you could discuss that Word. It's called Join the Journey. It's free. You go to www.jointhejourney.com, and you sign up.
We email first thing in the morning, or you download the app on your smartphone you look at the second you wake up, right after you looked at it the second before you went to bed. It's an app that is right there for you to hit and for there to be a section of Scripture for you to read and somebody's very short contemplation about what that text might mean, some application questions, a place right there to ask questions about it. "I read something I didn't understand," and people will respond to you.
We're in the middle of the book of Isaiah right now. Isaiah, chapter 1, has some amazing passages in it that are very relevant to what we don't want to do here, who we don't want to be as his people. Let's take a look at it together. Isaiah, chapter 1. Isaiah is talking to a group of people who had the opportunity to be intimately acquainted with God, and who were drifting because they had gotten caught up in dead old-time religion.
God is not interested in man's works as if they could stand on their own. God is interested in a relationship. When you're in a relationship, you work on that relationship. When you're in a relationship, you do what you can do to draw closer to those who you are in a relationship with.
You don't just mechanically buy a Valentine in February or mechanically show up at a certain meal on holidays. Those are bad relationships. God wants a daily abiding relationship that's filled with joy and laughter. Verse 11 is where we're going to pick it up. This is where God is trying to reset the deck with his people. He says this in verse 11,
"'What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?' says the Lord. 'I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle; and I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. When you come to appear before me, who requires of you this trampling of my courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.'" They don't go together!
"I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from my sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow."
I might insert here just a few things from the last several weeks. "Quit acting like the gifts you have are gifts somehow you deserve. Everything you have, I have given you, and they're not yours. You are stewards of them. Use them in a way that would bring glory to me and blessing to others.
Watch what you feed your heart. Don't follow your heart; feed your heart things that are true, because it's going to be constantly pulling you in a bad direction to begin with. It needs to be redirected. As your heart is redirected, as you feed yourself things that are true, use your hands to follow the truth you fed it."
Here's the truth: God doesn't want us to show up here on Sunday morning in and of itself. He wants us to be here together so we can be reminded that, "Better is one day in his courts than thousands in the presence, in the heart of, at the king's table, of the wicked." He wants us to remind ourselves that if we want to bless our soul, we meditate on the goodness of God and the kindness of his way.
That's what we want to do this morning. We don't want to just rush through an amazing three weeks of study of Scripture we've done corporately. He doesn't want us to rush through Isaiah so we can say, "I read The Journey today." He wants us to meditate on these words. He wants us to interact with him.
First of all, you might say, "Todd, I don't know how to change my heart." Well, that's a great position to be in, because those are the very next words out of Isaiah's mouth. "Come, let us reason together," he says. "Though your sins are as scarlet, I can make them white as snow; though they are red like crimson, I can make them white as wool." Only God can do that, and he'll make you new.
The way he makes you new is you come to him and say, "I don't like the way I am, Lord. I need you to do a new work in me. I need you to replace the spirit of rebellion and self-love with a spirit of truth, a spirit of humility, a spirit of Christ. I don't know why you would do that, because I deserve judgment. I've screwed up every relationship I've been in. I've even said I've known you, and I haven't walked according to your ways."
This morning he just says to you, "Come. Let me lead you. Blessed are the poor in spirit." The ones who know they can't do justice and they won't love the widow; they'll love themselves. This morning what we want to do is give you a chance to talk to God, to listen to God, to reflect on his Word, and to beg him to inform your heart.
In Isaiah, chapter 2, if you'll just flip over there with me, there's another little section I want to look at and read with you this morning, because it really directs us and tells us the kinds of things we want to focus on even as we get to do this in just a moment together. I'm going to give a number of folks in here a chance to be in a place that's even more appropriate for them, but for many of us it's going to be right here, just going over these things.
Isaiah, chapter 2. We'll start right there at the top. "Now it will come about…" Verse 2. "…that in the last days, the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as a chief of the mountains…" Mountains are a picture of strength and power. So even though it looks like God is not going to turn this thing around, even though it looks like God is not going to win, that godlessness and rebellion are going to win, just know this…
Isaiah is saying, "Don't be disheartened. Don't be alarmed. I'm going to show you what your job is, but just know God will do his job. Our job is just to participate with him in every way he wants, including suffering while evil has its moment."
"…the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as a chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us concerning his ways and that we may walk in his paths.' For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples…"
When you hear nations, don't just think America and Iraq. Don't just think Pakistan and India. You need to think of the tribe of people who are the people of God, every tribe and every tongue, and the people who are part of the spirit of the age. There are certain people who think right now what you need to follow is your own will, your own way, your own heart. There are other people who say, "The heart is desperately sick and deceitful above all else," and who seek to have God feed it with truth.
He'll judge between those people. It's going to happen. There is going to be a day when peace will come, and that peace will come when folks have had a fill enough of their own ways. Listen. Peace will come into your life this morning when you have a fill of enough of your own ways. Here is the reality about people. Until it hurts more to stay the same than it does to change, most people never change.
America won't change until it hurts us, probably financially, maybe in terms of physical peace, certainly in terms of physical provision. I mean, if it doesn't hurt us to run up $18 trillion in debt, why not run up $20 trillion? If it doesn't hurt us to mock God as relates to the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman and there's no-fault breaking of covenant, why not say, "There's really no need for it even to be a man and a woman."
If we say life doesn't really matter in the womb, it won't be long before we say, "You know what? Life doesn't really matter." Eventually it's going to come to you, and it's going to come to enough people that they're going to say, "I don't think I like this way. Is there anybody who knows a different way?"
That's where you and I should have been all along, offering a different way. Loving them, encouraging them, telling them, reminding them, "Here's a better way. Here's another way." Doing it graciously and doing it while we ourselves are shining stars in the midst of a dark and perverse generation. Not better than others, but people who, by God's grace, have seen earlier than others that God's way is good. There is going to be a day when the whole world sees that.
By the way, if you go to New York City and you go to the United Nations, you will find Isaiah, chapter 2, verse 4 inscribed on it. Do you know that? Here's the verse. "And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks." In other words there will no longer be a time for war, because the nations will unite together.
Now listen, when nations of sinners try and get along, they don't get along. But when the nations return to Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and honor him as King, and all of us humbly live with him as our Father, then we will not war with one another. That's what that verse means. That's the day. When the Prince of Peace is seen as the King, "Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war."
Let's not for a second focus on the nations; let's focus on your family. How are you doing? Is there peace in your home? I'm going to say if there's not peace in your home, in your marriage, with your kids, it's going to be because you yourself have not decided, "This house will serve the Lord."
Come, Watermark. Let us walk in the light of the Lord. That really is what we want to do this morning, just remind ourselves that's where life can be found. Let me just say again, come, house of Jacob. Come all who are part of the covenant people of God. Let us walk in the light of the Lord.
Let us change our thinking by changing our mind, not by being people who come up with new ideas but people who go to the old idea, who walk in the ancient paths. So we're going to pray for our head this morning. Come, O Jacob. Let us not follow our heart, but let us feed our heart with things that are true. Come, O Jacob. Let us not just be people who love with word or with tongue but in deed and in truth. Let us get our hands busy, and as we walk in the light, let us work as people of the light.
What I want to give you a chance to do is just pray. Some people might say, "Why do we pray? What's the purpose of praying? Why does God ask us to do that?" Well, the good news is I did a Real Truth. Real Quick. on that a while back called Why Pray If God Already Knows Everything Anyway? I'm not going to give you the answer to that, because that resource is already out there. Check it out. Listen to it on the car ride home with your kids. It might be an encouragement to them. For now, let's go.
What we did in your Watermark News this week is we took the messages from the last three weeks, and we've given you simple bullet points to pray. We hope you always bring your Bible when you come to connect with us here, so there are verses there. If you don't know how to pray, I think most of you know how to read.
What I would encourage you to do is get in little small groups of three and four, and you just open your Bible. Somebody read the verse that's referenced there, and then somebody else can just read the sentence and the prayer that is already written. Some of you all will not be blessed by having a guide that laid out for you, and you feel free to pray.
What we would ask you to do right now is to be still, to talk to God, to hear from his Word and his mind and his heart about how it is we should respond, with our head, with our heart. Then we'll come back, we'll pray a little bit more, we'll sing a little bit more, and then we'll pray on hands. Focus on head and heart for the next few minutes. Okay?
Lord, thank you that you, in your incredible sovereignty and in your infinite love and ability, hear every single one of us. It's just a joy to see people trying to commune with you and to let you speak to them through your Word. Would you just continue to let us serve one another this morning as we listen to you? Speak to us again, as we remind our hearts of things that are true. Amen.
The reason I transitioned and interrupted this way is I want to just give you a chance to keep praying all the way through that. I also want to talk to you a little bit about what makes these times really valuable; it's just to pass it around. Rather than one person praying for five minutes and the other one is listening, get in the habit in communal prayer of praying in 15- to 30-second spurts, or just reading the Scripture and then praying that Scripture into your life.
If you're not sure what to do, open your Bible and read the context of the verses that were there. You have plenty to cover, so I'm going to let you pray now all the way through, not just the head and the heart, but also the hands section. Pick up where you were. It's about 9:55. We'll go like this for about another eight or so minutes.
You have just minutes to read Scripture to each other, meditate on it, and to pray it into your heart. Then we'll close with a corporate song and getting to celebrate how God has made our sins which are red as scarlet white as snow. All right? Take advantage of this next eight minutes together, and let's pray.
Isn't it amazing? It don't know if you can hear it like I can how differently we sing when our hearts are just a little bit more set apart the way we did for those 15-20 minutes. It's hard to come in from the rush and the rubble of getting ready and just worship. That's why some days when you can just come in, when you prepare your hearts for worship, it makes a difference. Also it just lets you know your Father wants to have that deep connection.
Is there anything you'd rather hear from a lover than, "Here's my heart."? Not just a window of time but, "Here's my heart." That's what God wants. I want to remind you, God is a person. He is spirit. He has given us the visible image of his Son, but he wants a relationship. You get relationship with time, devotion, reconciliation. You have to do the heart work. God has done the hard work so we can have hearts that are made whole.
What we want to do is give you a chance just to be still and receive what he told us we should receive on a regular basis. I want to remind you, God never desired the way we would do communion is to have large buildings where guys in robes or men you think are set apart for some reason administer to you the elements. I don't know if it's an offense to him that we do it this way or not; I do believe it offends him if this is the only time we do it.
I hear people telling me all the time, "Why don't we take communion more often?" I go, "I don't know. Why don't you take communion every time you eat?" That's what the Scripture suggests. Every time you break bread in the course of a normal meal… Not at church. You, the church, when you break bread, be reminded that his body, the Bread of Life, was broken for you.
Every time you drink refreshing drink, take that and just go, "This is a reminder of his blood that was poured out for us." By the way, there's no special means of grace in these instruments you are about to receive. There is grace in what these instruments are to remind you of.
"But if you eat and drink this bread in an unworthy manner…" In other words, you just go through the motions, and you don't reconcile to one another, ask God to forgive you for that which has been a heart-drift, and return to him, he says you eat and drink in an unworthy manner and you eat and drink judgment to yourself because you say, "There's a God who is there, who is real, who loves me, and I don't really love him because I just go through the motions."
Anybody who knows Jesus is welcome at this table but do your heart work. Reconcile with him. It says in the Scripture, "If you have enmity with a brother, don't rush to worship. Leave the worship instrument there. Go reconcile with your brother. Make that your act of worship, then return."
Husbands, this might be a decent time to lean over and grab your wife's hands. Put your arm around her. Whisper in her ear, "I have not led you well this week. The only time we prayed together was just now. I need to ask your forgiveness for some things. Thank you for a gracious God and being a gracious wife."
Wives, you might want to lean back and say, "I need to ask your forgiveness, because rather than completing you and spurring you on to love and good deeds in a gentle and kind way, I just accepted it. I just condoned your drift. Or I struck out in anger. Or I usurped your leadership. Will you forgive me?"
Then dig in and be reminded of the grace that's available in our King. Come, O Jacob. Walk as people of the light. Be still. Listen to the words of truth sung over you, and then we'll take these elements together. Receive the bread and the wine.
What a great way to say it. "At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree. On that beautiful scandalous night, you and me." We're rescued by this amazing act of grace. The reason we remember Jesus at every meal is because it just reminds us, "Man, that's my Father. That's who I'm supposed to be," this beautifully scandalous, forgiving, forgiven person who extends grace and receives grace, who is defined by the things of the Spirit: love and joy, peace and patience, kindness and goodness, gentleness and faithfulness, and self-control.
That kind of family doesn't need swords and spears. They can just dig into cultivating work of healthy relationships. That's what Jesus offers. If you have received what Jesus offers, this is your chance just to remember it.
"Jesus, on the night which he was betrayed, took the bread that was at the table, and he broke it. He looked at his disciples, and he said, 'Look, I know you're about to be satisfied by this bread, but listen. As often as you break bread and you're satisfied by it, be reminded my body was broken for you. It's about to be. I'm the Bread of Life. I'm what gives you strength. I'm what brings you satisfaction and joy." The body of Christ, broken for you.
A little bit later at that same meal…it was the Passover Seder he was in the middle of…he took the cup. It was the cup of anticipation, the cup of promise, the cup of celebration, and he said, "As often as you drink of this cup, do it in remembrance of me." It was almost a cheer.
"There's new relationship because my blood is about to be spilled. The perfect Lamb of God is about to take away the sins of the world. So you whose sins are red as scarlet, on this beautiful scandalous night that's just 24 hours away, are about to made white as snow." The blood of Christ, shed for you.
That's good stuff. Sweet. Isn't it? I love it. I say it every time. I'm glad we don't do wine. It's always bitter. We can't afford Cakebread so we'd give you bad stuff, but Welch's is cheap and it's sweet. It's a good reminder. It's a good reminder of the sweetness of Christ. We just want to remind ourselves as we close with the sweetness of Christ by reminding ourselves how sweet the Father's love is.
Here's what I want you to know. This world doesn't believe the Father's love is sweet. This world doesn't even know the Father's love is true. I'm going to share this with you real quickly. This week we had a family who hangs around with us who came to us and said, "Our little boy is showing effeminate traits. We think he might be a girl."
We just said, "Oh, I know that's what the world is telling you, 'If you want to be a good parent, you don't want to force your kids down a certain road.' Let me share with you, let us explain to you. Your little boy is not a girl. He's a boy. Let's celebrate who he is, but let's teach him to be a man, a man in all the ways a boy shaped like him should be." You know what they said to us? "We are so relieved. We just didn't want to do the wrong thing."
People, do you understand this world is telling you there's a way to live, a way to parent, a way to think? You have to speak up, or we are going to destroy our children. You have to know and equip and love and be ready and know why that is true. That's how the Father's love goes into the darkness.
When you think about how deep the Father's love is, I'm going to tell you something. The Father's love to a lost world is as deep as your relationship with God. Blessed are you who know your relationship with God is based on the Father's deep love for you. Let's close with this together. Here we go.
If you don't know that, would you let us talk to you about it? Would you turn to the people around you and say, "Help me understand how I can know that with all my heart." If you do know that with all your heart, would you go sing of his love this week? Would you go be his people? Would you walk in the light, O Jacob? Would you speak up for truth? The world is wondering where peace is. It's in Christ. You are the church. You don't come to church; you are the church. We gather to remind ourselves of the love of the Father, and we have done it.
When we follow his ways, we make every sacrifice and adjustment we can. If part of that God would have you do is to commit to the 5 o'clock service, if you'll go to the welcome table, if you'll commit to serve or to attend (and not everybody should, but everybody who can), we'd love to give you one of these shirts you can wear over the next couple of weeks. If you'd like to commit, please go get one of these. If you're committed to Jesus, go tell it on the mountain. Amen? Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.