DAY 8 Planned for God's Pleasure You created everything, and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created. Revelation 4:11 (NLT) The Lord takes pleasure in his people. Psalm 149:4a (TEV) You were planned for God's pleasure. The moment you were born into the world, God was there as an unseen witness, smiling at your birth. He wanted you alive, and your arrival gave him great pleasure. God did not need to create you, but he chose to create you for his own enjoyment. You exist for his benefit, his glory, his purpose, and his delight. Bringing enjoyment to God, living for his pleasure, is the first purpose of your life. When you fully understand this truth, you will never again have a problem with feeling insignificant. It proves your worth. If you are that important to God, and he considers you valuable enough to keep with him for eternity, what greater significance could you have? You are a child of God, and you bring pleasure to God like nothing else he has ever created. The Bible says, "Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children-this was his pleasure and purpose.' One of the greatest gifts God has given you is the ability to enjoy pleasure. He wired you with five senses and emotions so you can experience it. He wants you to enjoy life, not just endure it. The reason you are able to enjoy pleasure is that God made you in his image. We often forget that God has emotions, too. He feels things very deeply. The Bible tells us that God grieves, gets jealous and angry, and feels compassion, pity, sorrow, and sympathy as well as happiness, gladness, and satisfaction. God loves, delights, gets pleasure, rejoices, enjoys, and even laughs! Bringing pleasure to God is called "worship." The Bible says, "The LORD is pleased only with those who worship him and trust his love.' Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship. Like a diamond, worship is multifaceted. It would take volumes to cover all there is to understand about worship, but we will look at the primary aspects of worship in this section. Anthropologists have noted that worship is a universal urge, hard-wired by God into the very fiber of our being-an inbuilt need to connect with God. Worship is as natural as eating or breathing. If we fail to worship God, we always find a substitute, even if it ends up being ourselves. The reason God made us with this desire is that he desires worshipers! Jesus said, "The Father seeks worshipers." Depending on your religious background, you may need to expand your understanding of "worship." You may think of church services with singing, praying, and listening to a sermon. Or you may think of ceremonies, candles, and communion. Or you may think of healing, miracles, and ecstatic experiences. Worship can include these elements, but worship is far more than these expressions. Worship is a lifestyle. Worship is far more than music. For many people, worship is just a synonym for music. They say, "At our church we have the worship first, and then the teaching." This is a big misunderstanding. Every part of a church service is an act of worship: praying, Scripture reading, singing, confession, silence, being still, listening to a sermon, taking notes, than music, giving an offering, baptism, communion, signing a commitment card, and even greeting other worshipers. Actually, worship predates music. Adam worshiped in the Garden of Eden, but music isn't mentioned until Genesis 4:21 with the birth of Jubal. If worship were just music, then all who are nonmusical could never worship. Worship is far more than music. Even worse, "worship" is often misused to refer to a particular style of music: "First we sang a hymn, then a praise and worship song." Or, "I like the fast praise songs but enjoy the slow worship songs the most." In this usage, if a song is fast or loud or uses brass instruments, it's considered "praise." But if it is slow and quiet and intimate, maybe accompanied by guitar, that's worship. This is a common misuse of the term "worship." Worship has nothing to do with the style or volume or speed of a song. God loves all kinds of music because he invented it all-fast and slow, loud and soft, old and new. You probably don't like it all, but God does! If it is offered to God in spirit and truth, it is an act of worship. Christians often disagree over the style of music used in worship, passionately defending their preferred style as the most biblical or God-honoring. But there is no biblical style! There are no musical notes in the Bible; we don't even have the instruments they used in Bible times. Frankly, the music style you like best says more about you-your background and personality- than it does about God. One ethnic group's music can sound like noise to another. But God likes variety and enjoys it all. There is no such thing as "Christian" music; there are only Christian lyrics. It is the words that make a song sacred, not the tune. There are no spiritual tunes. If I played a song for you without the words, you'd have no way of knowing if it were a "Christian" song. Worship is not for your benefit. As a pastor, I receive notes that say, "I loved the worship today. I got a lot out of it." This is another misconception about worship. It isn't for our benefit! We worship for God's benefit. When we worship, our goal is to bring pleasure to God, not ourselves. If you have ever said, "I didn't get anything out of worship today," you worshiped for the wrong reason. Worship isn't for you. It's for God. Of course, most "worship" services also include elements of fellowship, edification, and evangelism, and there are benefits to worship, but we don't worship to please ourselves. Our motive is to bring glory and pleasure to our Creator. In Isaiah 29 God complains about worship that is half-hearted and hypocritical. The people were offering God stale prayers, insincere praise, empty words, and man-made rituals without even thinking about the meaning. God's heart is not touched by tradition in worship, but by passion and commitment. The Bible says, "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men." Worship is not a part of your life; it is your life. Worship is not just for church services. We are told to "worship him continually" and to "praise him from sunrise to sunset." In the Bible people praised God at work, at home, in battle, in jail, and even in bed! Praise should be the first activity when you open your eyes in the morning and the last activity when you close them at night. David said, "I will thank the Lord at all times. My mouth will always praise him." Every activity can be transformed into an act of worship when you do it for the praise, glory, and pleasure of God. The Bible says, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.' Martin Luther said, "A dairymaid can milk cows to the glory of God." How is it possible to do everything to the glory of God? By doing everything as if you were doing it for Jesus and by carrying on a continual conversation with him while you do it. The Bible says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." This is the secret to a lifestyle of worship-doing everything as if you were doing it for Jesus. The Message paraphrase says, "Take your everyday, ordinary life your sleeping, eating, going-to work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as an offering. Work becomes worship when you dedicate it to God and perform it with an awareness of his presence. When I first fell in love with my wife, I thought of her constantly: while eating breakfast, driving to school, attending class, waiting in line at the market, pumping gas-I could not stop thinking about this woman! I often talked to myself about her and thought about all the things I loved about her. This helped me feel close to Kay even though we lived several hundred miles apart and attended different colleges. By constantly thinking of her, I was abiding in her love. This is what real worship is all about -falling in love with Jesus. DAY EIGHT THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE Point to Ponder: I was planned for God's pleasure. Verse to Remember: "The LORD takes pleasure in his people." Psalm 149:4a(TEV) Question to Consider: What common task could I start doing as if I were doing it directly for Jesus?