So, we began a new series a few weeks ago, which I have entitled “God’s Own Heart,” and this series of teachings is to answer the following question: “What is God’s own heart?” In other words, what does His heart look like? What is in His heart? And what are His innermost passions and desires?
So, we began three weeks ago by looking at one of the references that we have to David being a man after God’s own heart found in 1 Samuel 13:14 which says, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”
We saw that if we want to learn what is in the heart of God, we ought to look at the heart of David, since he was said to be after God’s own heart. Of course, David was flesh & blood and had a nature like ours. So, he is not a perfect reflection of God’s nature. However, we can look at a lot of things in his life, study his heart, and learn more about “God’s own heart.” So, that means that, as a general rule, the things he cared about, God cares about. The things he desired, God desires. The things he sought after, God seeks after. The things he focused on, God focuses on. And those last couple of sentences are what we looked at in part one of this series: What does God look at and what does He seek?
Last week, we talked about His love, and we found out that the undisputed most emphasized topic in the entire Word of God is love. Therefore, love must be the greatest part of His heart—for if love is talked about the most, then it must be what is in God’s heart in abundance. We verified this by that truth in Matthew 12:34-35 where Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” So, if we want to know what is in God’s heart in abundance, all we need to do is study His Word and find out what He likes to talk about—and love is obviously the top conversation piece.
We proceeded to look at a passage of Scripture that verifies this--Matthew 22:36-39–-when Jesus said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” And the truth we learned last week is this: Would the Lord make such a fuss in His Word about love—namely, us loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor as we do ourselves—if He was not doing this Himself? And the answer to that question is obvious: Of course, He does! Therefore, we learned that if He says that the greatest of all virtues is love (1 Corinthians 13:13), and if He says that the greatest of all commandments is love, then love must hold the greatest part of His heart! Amen? Yes, the Lord God loves you and me with all His heart, with all of His soul, with all of His mind, and with all of His strength! Amen!
Yes, love is what flows from God’s heart—not condemnation, not criticism, not ill-will—only love. We saw this from Jesus’ statement in Mark 7:21-22 where Jesus taught us something about the heart. He said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.” Here, we saw how Jesus was teaching us that, when it comes to mankind, our hearts are deceitfully wicked and these are the things that proceed from our evil hearts. However, since God is good, perfect, holy, and love, the opposite must be true for His heart. So, out of the heart of God “proceed good thoughts (not evil thoughts), faithfulness (not adulteries), purity (not fornication), giving life (not murders), gifts (not thefts)…” Therefore, His mind—His thoughts, meditations, etc.—are only on good, not of evil (see Jeremiah 29:11)! This is the way God thinks!
But also, regarding the Greatest Commandment, Jesus told us to love our neighbor as we do ourselves, didn’t He? Yes, He loves you and I as He does Himself. What does this mean? It reinforces that awesome truth that God loves us just as much as He loves Jesus (see John 17:23)! Yes, He loves us just as much as He loved His Only Begotten Son! Hallelujah!
And, finally, we looked over at Matthew 6:21, where Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” and we learned that if we can find where God’s treasure is, then we can find out where His heart is also. And we learned that God’s treasure is in us!
We saw how the Bible teaches us that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels…” (2 Corinthians 4:7) and also that the “riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…” (Ephesians 1:18) Therefore, God’s treasure—Christ’s very inheritance—has been placed on the inside of every born-again believer! Glory! So we learned that this means that since God’s treasure is in us, then His heart is there too! Amen! In other words, God’s heart is with us just like His treasure is! Glory be to God!
We verified this by looking at those two Kingdom parables that the Lord Jesus taught us—the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price & the Parable of the Hidden Treasure (see Matthew 13:44-46). And we learned in both of these parables, that while there is certainly truth that we are like the man in these parables that sell all we have to purchase this treasure and pearl of great price, we would not have been able to even do this if Jesus Himself would not have done it first. Therefore, we saw how Jesus was first this merchant who sold all He had on the Cross in order to redeem us—all because we are that precious commodity in His heart! Thank you, Jesus!
That’s right, church—if where one’s treasure is, there their heart will be also, then God’s heart is most certainly with us because we are His treasure! As a matter of fact, if the Lord was constantly criticizing the religious leaders of His day for having hearts that were far from Him, then He is not going to be like that, is He? No, His heart is obviously not going to be far from us. On the contrary, His heart must be near to us! Yes, His heart is with us!
Church, love is the greatest thing on God’s heart. And do you know why? It is because God is love! He doesn’t just have love to give; He is love personified. In other words, agape is the core part of His very nature! Love is the greatest part of His heart! Amen!
GOD’S HEART OF WORSHIP
So, this week, I want us to move into a part of God’s heart that most are completely ignorant of. Yes, the thing I want us to focus on this week is something that most Christians simply cannot relate to—yet, it is a big part of who He is.
So, let me begin by asking you a question: What is the first thing that you identify King David with? In other words, when you think of David, what is the first thing you think of?
Some might have answered that when they think of David they think of Israel’s greatest king. Others might have recalled his faith and boldness in situations like his confrontation with Goliath. But probably for most of you, you first identified David with being a worshipper, and understandably so—for he was first a psalmist, and a great one at that!
David was undoubtedly used by the Lord more than any other man in writing all of these psalms that you and I benefit from today. In fact, 73 of the 150 Psalms in the Bible are specifically attributed to him by being referred to as “a psalm of David.” And if you add the two psalms (Psalm 2 & Psalm 95) that the New Testament attributes to David (See Acts 4:24-26 & Hebrews 4:7), you find that at least half of the Psalms (i.e. 75 out of 150) that we have recorded as Holy Scriptures were Davidic psalms. Therefore, it is rather clear that a big part of David’s heart was being a praiser and a worshipper of Yahweh.
So, you know where I am going with this, don’t you? Since David was a man after God’s own heart, then this heart of worship that He possessed just might also be a part of God’s heart. Yes, I believe that God too is a praise & worshipper like David was, and today I will show you why I believe this is true.
Now, let me first of all say, I do understand that God is not paying homage to anything or anyone else. He alone is God, and there is none other! So, He is not worshipping His creation in regards to reverencing and/or lowering Himself to us. That is His creation’s job—to worship Him in that respect.
Therefore, no one is arguing the fact that God lays prostrate before no one. However, if we do a careful study of what the terms “praise & worship” truly mean and also look at other Scriptures that illustrate this other side of God, we can get a glimpse into God’s heart of worship. Amen?
So, let’s first look over at passage of Scripture that will rock your world! Yes, you are about to get a different picture painted in your heart of Who it is that you praise & worship! Amen!
Now, first of all, let me give a quick lesson to the Wednesday Night, Spiritual Giftings crew: I overheard a lot of different prophecies being given this week during the exercise and several of them contained a lot of things that you will hear here in Zephaniah chapter 3 and also in this message today. So, here is a good lesson on how to judge prophecies: When someone gives you a word, a lot of times the Lord will confirm it through the corporate message you hear, like say through the pastor’s message on Sunday. And that is exactly what is happening here today—the Lord’s wisdom well at work. Amen.
In the third chapter of the Prophet Zephaniah’s Book, we have a beautiful description of our God’s own heart: Zephaniah 3:14-17 reads— “Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; You shall see disaster no more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.’”
Notice, first of all, that Zephaniah is concluding his prophecy with a section of hope here. This was actually quite common in many of the major & minor prophets’ books—as there were continuous references in their writings of the salvation that would come in a later dispensation that you and I now live in. In other words, the gospel was forecasted in the Old Testament through the prophets—who prophesied of the grace that would come to us.
Concerning this, the apostle Peter said in First Peter 1:10-12– “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.”
The gist of what Peter was saying here is this—that many of the prophecies that were given through the major and minor prophets were not things that Israel would see fulfilled in their dispensation. Rather, some of these things that were given through them were written for us who are now experiencing the good news they spoke of! Glory to God! And Peter said that the blessings of salvation that we are walking in today are things that even angels desire to look into.
Now this phrase— “things which angels desire to look into” --describes how a child might curiously peer over a gate to see what was on the other side. Church, even the angels of God are interested in the glorious salvation that you and I have! This is one of the reasons I believe that the cherubim are positioned in such a way on the top of the arc of the covenant—that they might peer over into the mercy seat and see the glorious covenant that has been established between Christ Jesus and God the Father! Hallelujah!
In regards to this, we had a service a few weeks ago that a couple of you saw into the spirit and saw things like this: In one account, someone saw angels peering in through what looked like windows as little children peering over a gate to see what was on the other side. Also, while we were singing the song "Good, Good Father," someone saw Brother Don Van Hoozier, our founding pastor here at High Point Church who went on to be with the Lord a couple of years ago, looking down on the congregation, with his hands on something like a white picket fence, and nodding in approval. Then he turned his head and said to God the Father, "Lord, they're doing pretty good down there." Then when I took the microphone and began to sing and talk at the end of that song, he nodded in approval and clapped his hands in applause, and finally walked away.
Church, what we have today is so amazing! God desires for us to realize the so great of a salvation that we are a part of today! This is why the Lord, through the Prophet Zephaniah, told us to “Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!” Church, we have something to sing and shout about under our new and better covenant! As “Zephy” goes on to say, “The Lord has taken away your judgments (i.e. There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus – Romans 8:1), He has cast out your enemy (i.e. Behold, I saw satan fall like lightning from heaven – Luke 10:18). The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst (i.e. I will never leave you nor forsake you and the Holy Spirit shall abide with us forever – Hebrews 13:5 & John 14:16); You shall see disaster no more (i.e. He delivers us from all evil –1 Thessalonians 1:10 & Matthew 6:13).”
Then Zephaniah goes on to say, “In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save…” So, based on all of these promises we have today, we never need to fear. We need to be strong because the Mighty One is with us! He will save—deliver, provide, heal, etc. Amen!
But notice what else the Mighty Jehovah does: Zephaniah goes on to say— “He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.’” Let’s look at another couple of translations of verse 17:
Now I guarantee you that this description of the Almighty has never entered into the hearts and minds of most believers. It certainly is true though! Our God actually rejoices over us with gladness and with singing! He celebrates us! He endeavors to refresh and renew us with His love! Amen!
HOW GOD PRAISES
So, this is what I want us to focus on this week—that our God is a praiser Himself! He rejoices in us! And He even has things (or in this case, people) that He “worships.”
Again, if David is a called a man after God’s own heart, then his heart for praise & worship will not be too far off from God’s heart, right? In other words, God is a good praise & worshipper Himself! No, not that He is paying homage and worshipping a higher being than Himself. But if we truly understand what these terms “praise” and “worship” really mean, then we can more easily swallow the fact that the Lord does some “praising & worshipping” Himself.
First of all, let’s look at the term “praise”: You see, according to the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, “praise” is defined as “to esteem, value, or prize.” Webster’s also adds this comment which I found very interesting— “It appears that praise, price, prize, are all from one root, the primary sense of which is to lift or to raise...” He goes on to say, “…and it may be questioned whether this (i.e. raise) is ‘praise’ with the prefix.” This is also where we get our word “appraise” from—which means to place an estimated value on something.
So, from this definition, “praise” literally means “to raise the value of or to lift up the price of.” In other words, you could say, praise means to esteem something or someone very highly. Therefore, if this is what it means to “praise,” how does one technically do it? Let me give you a few Scriptural examples:
In Second Samuel 14:25, the Scriptures say that Absalom was “praised” for his good looks. Does that mean that people went around saying, “I praise Absalom! Oh, I praise Absalom!”? Of course, not! Since it was his good looks that they were praising, this is probably what they went around saying— “Isn’t Absalom good looking!?! My, oh my, his hair is so beautiful!” This is praise!
Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” Now, how will one generation praise God’s works to another? Is it not by them declaring and boasting in what God had done? Of course! They probably told their kids things like— “When I was your age, God parted the Red Sea and we walked across on dry ground! I’ve seen God do some miraculous things like defeat a whole army of men without us even having to lift a sword! I’ll tell you, He is a mighty God!” This is praise!
Last but not least, in Second Chronicles 5:13 we have a great example of true praise: It says, “… and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying: ‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever,’…” Notice that it says that they praised the Lord by saying something. In other words, they were praising God as they said something specific, and in this case, they said, “For the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever!” You see, this is a true statement of praise: to declare that God is good and that His mercy lasts forever is the praise of God.
So, from these examples can you see what it truly means to praise something or someone? It means to declare how beautiful and lovely it is to you! It means to boast in all that someone has done for you! It means to tell how good something or someone is!
Therefore, we ought to be able to see now how God can actually “praise” something or someone Himself—for if “praising” someone is not just saying, “Praise Joe” or “I praise Sarah,” but rather is simply talking about how wonderful we think Joe and Sarah are, then God can certainly be doing some “praising” Himself. Amen?
HOW GOD WORSHIPS
Well, what about worship—How does God worship? The word “worship” literally means “to adore, honor, or respect.” If you look at the word in its simplest form it says “worth-ship” which means “the state of being worthy, or worthiness. This describes the object of one’s worship being excellent in character and of great worth and value. Therefore, worship simply means to adore someone because of the great value and worth you place upon them in your heart.
So, if this is what worship really is, then we can see how God might do some “worshipping” Himself, right?
Let me give you an example of this from our own life: Our little dog, Bluesy (for some reason or another) loves to sit there and stare at me. And, no, not just when I have some food or she thinks she’s going to get something. No, sometimes that dog will just sit there and stare at me for no reason whatsoever. Well, there have been times when Shannon will say, “Awww, look at Bluesy adoring daddy.”
I bring this out because, what have we just seen? We are the apple of God’s eye! His attention is on us! And you could say that He is watching over us because He adores us! Yes, God is constantly adoring each and every one of His children. And why? It is because He places great value on us! And the gospel is this—He adores us because He sees us as “worthy” of this form of honor, adoration, and love. Amen!
LOVE BELIEVES THE BEST
Now the simplest way to explain all of this is with how we, as parents and grandparents, love and honor our children/grandchildren.
The apostle Paul said, in First Corinthians 13:7, that love “believes all things, hopes all things.” Now we know that God is love, so all of these descriptions of love listed in First Corinthians chapter 13 describe God, right? Therefore, God also “believes” and “hopes” all things. In fact, if you replace the word “love” with God in First Corinthians chapter 13, verses 4 through 6, you get a better picture of who God is.
So, what does this verse mean? It means that God believes the best in us. He expects (i.e. hopes) that we are the best. This is why you see Jesus seeming to expect a lot out of His disciples. It is because God, as Romans 8:31 says, is for us and not against us. He is our biggest fan and is actually rooting for us.
This is why I like to call God the ultimate little leaguer parent. You know how the parents of little leaguers can be completely irrational and blinded to the weaknesses of their children, right? Their kid can be one of the worst players on the team, but their parents think they should be batting clean-up or starting at quarterback. The reason these parents are like this is because they love their children so much that they believe in them. Yes, they expect all the good that they see in the child to come out in the game. That is how God is! Not that he is blinded to our shortcomings, but He does not focus on them. In His love, He chooses to focus on the potential that we have and looks beyond our current weaknesses. This is what love does! It believes, trusts, and hopes in the object of its love! Amen!
So, no, He does not praise & worship us like we do Him, but He does “praise” us like we praise our children and grandchildren, or “adore & love” us like we do our spouse. It’s all about relationship, church! And God’s heart is for us like our hearts are for those whom we love.
WITH ALL MY HEART
So, in light of all of this, I believe we can look into David’s heart of praise & worship in the Psalms and hear God’s heart as well. Let’s look at a few examples (for there are far too many for us to cover today), but look for God in these statements of praise & worship.
In this last example, we see how the Lord “blesses (us) at all times.” This really shouldn’t be a foreign concept to us either—for if He continuously tells us to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4), then why would we think He doesn’t do the same with us? Yes, church, our Lord always rejoices in us! And let me throw this in here: Just as He has told us to rejoice in Him always—not just when situations are ideal or our circumstances are favorable—likewise He rejoices in us always—even when we aren’t on our A-game and are not as holy & righteous as we should be. He rejoices in us always! Praise the Lord!
Again, God practices what He preaches. And so, if He desires us to have a heart of praise, love, worship, and rejoicing, then it is because His heart is to first love us in like fashion. He loves to praise His children, saying all manner of good things about us! If God had a wallet, I believe He would carry our picture around in it!
He loves us so much, church! And it’s high (point) time, we embrace this, so that our lives can reflect His love all the more! Amen!