How Much Is He Worth To You?

I heard a sermon recently that really made me think about something. The message was from Mark Chapter 14 about the woman who broke the alabaster vial of very expensive perfume, and poured it on Jesus' head. Some of the people in the room became indignant remarking to one another, "'Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.' And they were scolding her." (Mark 14:4-5) Jesus told the complainers to leave her alone; that she was doing something good for Him! "For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her." (Mark 14:6-9)

This event happened just before Jesus was arrested and crucified. In order to not leave Him on the cross, due to the approaching Sabbath, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed tomb temporarily. The plan was to anoint His body after the Sabbath. However Jesus rose from the dead very early on the first day of the week (the day after the Sabbath). Some of the women came to the tomb with anointing oil and spices and He wasn't there! No problem. The woman with the alabaster vial of very expensive perfume had already anointed Him. This was amazing and shows us that God's plan will be accomplished. He was anointed, beforehand, for His burial because He wouldn't be around to be anointed as a dead person!

Something else about this event amazes me. It's not clear how or where this woman got the perfume, but she had it. If the disciples were correct it was worth a year's salary. I'm sure to anyone in that day, this was a very large amount of money. Can you imagine spending a whole year's pay on a bottle of perfume?

One thing we do know is that this woman considered something else more valuable than the expensive perfume; what Jesus had done for her. Anointing Jesus (with this perfume) was exceedingly more valuable that whatever the cost of it might have been. Anointing Jesus was much more valuable than the money she could have received from selling it. Anointing Him was even more valuable than selling the perfume and giving the money to the poor. Her action was based on what Jesus had personally done for her, and nothing could ever be more valuable that an opportunity for her to show her deep appreciation.

I've heard this called extravagant worship many times, and I believe it. The woman was criticized for her actions, but the criticism was of no value to her. She could take it. Anointing Jesus was the most valuable thing to her. NOTHING else mattered to her.

What an example for you and me. How valuable is Jesus to you? Better asked, how valuable is what He has done for you? Is it so valuable that nothing else matters? Is it so valuable that what people say doesn't matter? How about what you think they might think? Oh that we would fall so in love with Jesus, that literally nothing else would matter! And like this woman, we would pour out ALL of our love and worship...on Jesus alone, no matter what the cost. This is truly extravagant worship!

Making A Place For Him

What does it mean to make a place for Him? Let me start by saying that the most significant reason for God's people gathering together is to meet with Jesus. Certainly, fellowshiping with one another is significant. Feeding on God's Word is significant. Praying together is very significant. But if Holy Spirit is not there, everything else becomes incredibly less spiritually significant. Unfortunately in many church gatherings today, He is not there. Why? Because there is no place prepared for Him.

The music is polished. The singers are talented and proficiently prepared. The lights are bright and moving. The preacher is dynamic and charismatic (in personality). The sound is acoustically balanced. From parking lot attendants to the ushers, everything is perfectly in place. But one thing is missing...Him!

I can already hear someone saying, "Yes, but the Bible says, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." (Matthew 18:20) This brings up a crucial question: Are you genuinely gathered together in His name? If 2 or 3 (or more) truly gather in Jesus' name, they've gathered to make a place for His presence! The reason, to meet with Him. Any time we gather for worship, the basis for it ALL must be to meet with Him.

Jesus has given us Holy Spirit, the presence of God. Listen to what Jesus said about Him. "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you." (John 16:14-15) If our gatherings are void of Holy Spirit we miss out on what the Father and Jesus have for us.

So how do we avoid the void? We make a place for Him. The truth is, Holy Spirit deeply desires to be the sole basis for our gatherings. He is God's Spirit, and He loves us with the Father's love. He is the Spirit of Jesus, the very one who came and broke the power of sin over us by sacrificing His own life for us. In addition Jesus, knowing He would return to the Father emphatically stated "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:18) He comes to us through the presence of Holy Spirit, who eagerly desires to meet with us individually and corporately. However, if our gatherings are not planned around a deep desire and a definite effort to meet with Him, He won't be there. As a matter of fact, without a deep desire and a definite effort to meet with Him, our gathering will be engineered to cater to man, and not Him.

There is nothing evil about making the effort to be excellent in the presentation of our worship. We should always want to do the best we possibly can. However, our efforts alone won't change someone from the inside out. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit can and will! We must be aware of the fact that we can draw crowds without Holy Spirit's help. But folks won't be changed. Our services must present a life-changing environment. Only Holy Spirit can change lives by meeting with us. We must make a place for Him.

How do we make a place for Him? First we must understand that we have a vital part in this. Holy Spirit comes when and where He is welcomed. He is drawn to people who are hungry and thirsty for His presence. This starts in personal worship. We all must make the time and the place for His presence in our own lives. Can you imagine how our services would go if the majority of the folks who show up had already been in His presence in deliberate preparation to welcome His presence corporately in the gathering? He eagerly desires to be with those who desire to be with Him.

How many times have you heard, "Lord, please anoint our worship." If you are anointed, the worship will be anointed. That's our important part.

I wonder how many Praise & Worship teams actually spend time worshiping as a group, to make a place for Him? Maybe you do, but many don't. Certainly we gather in a circle and ask God to bless our service. But I'm talking about entering into His presence together, as a worship team. You cannot lead folks where you haven't been. No matter how long your worship practice is...you need to spend at least half of that time worshiping as a team - preparing a place for Him in your midst. God doesn't only anoint the "official" gathering; He anoints anyone and anything offered to Him from hearts desiring to meet with Him! Many folks are so busy now that they only meet before the services on Sunday to practice. If that's you, you need to change that. Make it a requirement to meet at least one night in the week to practice the music and vocals, and to spend time as a team worshiping. If you're too busy for that, your too busy for His presence in your gatherings. I'll have to say, some of the most powerful times I have spent in His presence were when we were worshiping Him as a team - during practice. 

Some services are designed to make it most convenient for the people. In and out in a short time. Short praise and worship as to not tire out the people. Everything is designed for the comfort of the people, but not for the presence of God. I think it's time that some folks think seriously about changing this! The times we live in are the darkest yet. However, the power of His presence will permeate any degree of darkness. We need His presence to bring the fire back into our services in the midst of a sinful generation. How desperately folks need the light of His presence; the light of His love.

I am not anyway trying to be critical or judgmental. The truth is, many services are great, impressive presentations. But there is no fire of His presence on the service. Why? Because He's not there. Why is that? Because a place for Him has not been prepared in the midst of His people. I can promise you (I know I say that a lot), if you commit to make a place for Him in your midst, He will come. And He will bring the fire, and lives will be changed!