04.05.2009 Worship that gets God's Attention
8th April 2009
Father, what matters is that our hearts are prepared – we come looking for Your word to touch our hearts. Speak to us; prepare us to hear from You. Mark 14:1 Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread was two days off; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth, and kill [Him;] 2 for they were saying, "Not during the festival, lest there be a riot of the people." 3 And while He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining [at the table,] there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; [and] she broke the vial and poured it over His head. 4 But some were indignantly [remarking] to one another, "Why has this perfume been wasted? 5 "For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and [the money] given to the poor." And they were scolding her. 6 But Jesus said, "Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. 7 "For the poor you always have with you, and whenever you wish, you can do them good; but you do not always have Me. 8 "She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. 9 "And truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, that also which this woman has done shall be spoken of in memory of her." As we prepare for Holy Week – we are going to look at how to perform acts of worship that will make the world take notice. This one – will be spoken wherever the gospel goes – to the whole world. Though we can’t wipe Jesus’ feet with perfume, we can perform acts of worship that God will notice. 1) Acts of worship like this flow from our love relationship with Christ. It must come from that love relationship. In John, we see that this is Mary. She is brought up in the gospels a number of times. She has a special relationship with Jesus. Why did “Jesus wept?” – because Mary was weeping. John 12:2 – Martha was serving - Mary’s sister – 12:1 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining [at the table] with Him. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. Think of what she is doing – she is breaking in to this situation where all these men are sitting around and she does something that is unheard of – and appalling in this society – you can tell, by the response. She has that type of intimate relationship with Him that she can go against every cultural norm. Luke 10: 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up [to Him,] and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." Martha is saying: “That lazy bum – I’m stuck with all this work”: 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but [only] a few things are necessary, really [only] one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her. " Mary understood that the love relationship needs to be placed above all the Christian duties, ministries and Christian service. Your love relationship must come first and be the primary focus of your life. The tendency is to allow everything else to become the focus. Another thing we see – she was seated at His feet – listening to His word. To have this type of love relationship – to do this audacious act of worship – requires us to listen to His word. We must read His word on a regular basis – I challenge you to make it a habit of your life. That love cannot grow without that. Mary understood – when it comes to that love relationship – she understood the urgency of relationships. She comes in – the disciples are going about eating the meal and preparing for Passover. This was her chance to connect and nothing will stop her. She needs to connect with Him. This relationship matters to her. Think back on your marriage. Think way back when it started. You have that understanding of urgency of relationship when you are engaged. You are always looking for the opportunity – let’s connect – but as you get older – you get home from work and it is not as pressing to connect. If you go back in your early relationship with God – there was this desire to always connect – but over time – it gets pushed aside for service, ministry, doing good… - God wants us to move back to the urgency and priority of relationships. Matt. 5: 23 "If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Leave your offering – Leave your “Christian duty” – the relationship comes first – it is urgent. We want to take acts of worship that flow from that love relationship. 2) To perform acts of worship that are noticed by God – they must come at great cost and sacrifice. Mark 14: 3 And while He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining [at the table,] there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; [and] she broke the vial and poured it over His head. 4 But some were indignantly [remarking] to one another, "Why has this perfume been wasted? 5 "For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and [the money] given to the poor." So here comes Mary – with an alabaster jar of perfume – It was like a small bottle with a teardrop and a stem – it was worth about a YEAR’S WAGE – what was that worth? Her parents were probably gone – something like this was probably something that was handed down – of great value – maybe before her mother passed, it may have been given to her: “Mary – I want you to have this” – maybe like an engagement ring being passed from a mother to her daughter. They didn’t have screw-top lids – those were invented a few years later. She had to snap the stem. She poured it out all at once. For the disciples, it was like – You have wasted 40,000 dollars! At times, worship will cost us materially. God will ask us to perform acts of worship that cost us materially. When we do the offering – we mention that it is an act of worship – but for most of us, it becomes a Christian responsibility – but the Bible is clear that it is not to be that way. When you take and give – materially – you are performing an act of worship. For her to come in – think of the humility and shame – to take that vial and break it and waste – completely waste – to pour it on His feet – and with her hair – normally bound up and covered and supposed to only be exposed to her husband – to use her hair to wipe His feet. We think “how heroic” – but they were thinking – How shameful! We can see by their response. We will perform acts of worship where others might say, what is wrong with you – what is your problem. Mary makes herself completely vulnerable in this situation – and our worship will make us vulnerable. I want to keep my guard up and protect my self. There was no protection here – her love was deep enough to not be concerned about her own dignity. So – first – acts of worship that God takes notice FLOW from relationship, second – come at great cost – 3) When we put our service for Jesus first. Mark 14: 3b And they were scolding her. 6 But Jesus said, "Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me She has done a good deed to Me. It was not about a responsibility and duty – it was about Jesus – that is who she served. Jesus may have been using this in a sarcastic way – think of what we could do with 40000 dollars! We could put in a parking lot. 7 "For the poor you always have with you, and whenever you wish, you can do them good; but you do not always have Me. “You are not concerned about the poor here – you are embarrassed for the waste – what you think is a waste – but she has done something for me. You do your best ministry and Christian service when your love relationship with Christ is right. That is when you do it best – your focus is on that relationship and your service is right. But if that relationship has a problem – it is not done from right motive. There is a disconnect. Our service must first be for Jesus to be right. 4) in order to perform acts of worship that Christ takes notice of – we need to give what we can. Mark 14: 8 "She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial She was a real person – she had to be thinking – what can I do? What do I have? How can I show my love for Him? She may have thought – OH! Here is what I can do. God may reveal something to you that you can do for Him. You might say – WAIT – that perfume was my mom’s! That perfume is worth 40000 dollars. It was probably the most valuable thing she possessed and she “wastes” it on Him. The Corinthians are raising support for the church in Jerusalem: 2 Cor. 8:11-12 It is not just about sacrifice – it is not the amount that matters – not how much you give or what you give – but that you give what you are able. Remember the rich man – with the trumpets – the OSU marching band doing Script Temple… And then this widow – probably an older woman – shoes worn out – her only set of clothes – and she tosses a PENNY into the plate. You can imagine what they thought – a penny! But Jesus noticed – She gave more than all of them because she gave what she was able. Mark 14: 9 "And truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, that also which this woman has done shall be spoken of in memory of her." When we give what we can – what we have – and because of and putting our relationship with Christ first – that honors God and we become and example to others. Those are the best examples – those who do what they can. We have all read stories of those who, at great cost, have served Christ. And the Lord challenges us to serve Him at great cost – not afraid of the shame that may come into our lives. Last verse – how do we get here: Jeremiah 2:1 The LORD told me 2 to proclaim this message to everyone in Jerusalem. "I remember how faithful you were when you were young, how you loved me when we were first married; you followed me through the desert, through a land that had not been planted. There was a time when you would make whatever sacrifice necessary to make whatever sacrifice necessary to follow Him into the wilderness – the barren wilderness. I challenge us – wherever you are there are barren wildernesses that you will be called to – opportunity of great cost – acts of worship that cost you dearly – and He wants us to step into those. Let’s pray. Lord, when we set aside our own pride, our own desire – and Lord, we focus on our relationship with You – may You love us – we can know lord, that our acts of worship will be remembered by You. When we get to heaven – all of us have made, at times, great sacrifice for You – and you will remember each one. It might not be remembered in a book here on earth – but there is a book in heaven – and have recorded it and will remember it forever. You know the cost – you paid the cost.