Worship that Overflows (Sermon)
1 Chronicles 29:1-22
Have you ever had one of those Sunday mornings? Maybe you did this morning? You went to bed excited to come to church in the morning, and your alarm failed to go off. Instead of waking up with plenty of time to get everything and everyone ready for church, find yourself careening through the house like a rooster caught in a tornado.
You grab some cereal and pour it in bowls for the kids before you realize you’re out of milk. Now you’re frantically trying to pour the cereal from the bowl back into the box. All you want in the midst of this chaos is a cup of warm, liquid caffeine, but your coffeemaker is not cooperating. Now you’re trying to get out of the house even more quickly so you can make a Starbucks run before the service.
As you slap down cold pieces of leftover pizza on the kids’ plates, you call them to the table. Apparently they woke up early and decided to give each other homemade ballpoint pen tattoos.
You finally get everyone dressed (the kids in long sleeves on a 90 degree day to hide their tattoos), and you’re loading up the car. At that moment, the youngest says, “Uh, oh.” 5 minutes later, they’re in the car with a clean and dry outfit.
Starbucks is no longer an option, and you’re going to have to drive like the guys on the Dukes of Hazard just to make it to church on time. On the way, you begin to pray that there’ll be no visitors so that you can park in one of the close spots. Your prayer goes unanswered and you have to park 2 blocks away. The moment you step out of the car, the rain begins. By the time you reach the building, it’s a torrential downpour.
You slip into the auditorium as the first song ends and everyone takes their seat. You’re still trying to catch your breath while the Scripture is read, and finally, as the man upfront leads in prayer, you have a moment to think. What do you think at that moment? I bet it’s something like, “Well, this was a lost cause today. I’m glad I made it to church, but it’s going to be one of those days.”
Let’s be honest: have you ever felt like that? Have you ever felt like worship just wasn’t going to happen for you that day? You made it to church out of duty, but you’d really rather be back at home in your pajamas.
Our time of worship shouldn’t be dependent on our circumstances.
Our engagement in worship shouldn’t be tied to the stress of our morning.
Our motivation for worship shouldn’t fluctuate due to the trauma of burned breakfast or missed coffee.
Sometimes it’s not what happens before church, but what happens at church. It’s too dark or it’s not dark enough. The songs are all old or the songs are too new. The preacher’s not funny or the preacher’s too funny.
What motivates worship? What motivates real, genuine worship—not going through the motions, but heartfelt worship? If it’s not outward circumstances, then what motivates joy producing, life changing, perspective shaping, fear expelling, gladness generating worship? What motivates worship that is so powerful and profound that you cannot contain it? It overflows you?
This morning, I want to invite you to an amazing worship service recorded for us in the last chapter of 1 Chronicles. As we attend this service together, we’ll learn what overflowing worship looks like and what motivates it.
(1 Chronicles 29:1–8 ESV) And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the LORD God. So I have provided for the house of my God, so far as I was able, the gold for the things of gold, the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, besides great quantities of onyx and stones for setting, antimony, colored stones, all sorts of precious stones and marble. Moreover, in addition to all that I have provided for the holy house, I have a treasure of my own of gold and silver, and because of my devotion to the house of my God I give it to the house of my God: 3,000 talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and 7,000 talents of refined silver, for overlaying the walls of the house, and for all the work to be done by craftsmen, gold for the things of gold and silver for the things of silver. Who then will offer willingly, consecrating himself today to the LORD?” Then the leaders of fathers’ houses made their freewill offerings, as did also the leaders of the tribes, the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and the officers over the king’s work. They gave for the service of the house of God 5,000 talents and 10,000 darics of gold, 10,000 talents of silver, 18,000 talents of bronze and 100,000 talents of iron. And whoever had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the LORD, in the care of Jehiel the Gershonite.
Overflowing worship is seen in their gifts
King David assembled the people of God, and the worship service began. It began with an offering. (Maybe we should try that). The offering was far greater than any offering before or since. King David emptied his personal treasury into the plate. He drained his bank account of more than 100 tons of gold and 250 tons of silver! I don’t envy the ushers that day. The people followed his example and contributed 185 tons of gold, 10,000 gold coins, 375 tons of silver, 675 tons of bronze and 4,000 tons (or 8 million pounds) of steel.
This phenomenal offering wasn’t the result of a cleverly designed capital campaign. It wasn’t a tax or a tariff. Look at verse 5: “Who then will offer willingly, consecrating himself today to the LORD?” Almost 300 tons of gold was given as a free will offering.
The opposite of giving willingly is to give grudgingly. When you give grudgingly, you’re saying that you’d rather have the money go elsewhere. Think about that time when you got the unexpected bill—like your yearly car registration—in the mail. You opened up your checkbook, and you paid grudgingly. You wanted to spend that money on a steak dinner or an azalea bush or a birthday present. You absolutely didn’t want to send it to the state of North Carolina.
Worship is ultimately about worth. In fact, the word means, “to shape worth.” We worship that which we perceive has worth. The greater worth, the greater the worship.
For instance, in both Africa and China, I’ve seen forms of ancestor worship. Gifts and sacrifices are made to keep the dead person’s spirit happy. The greater the person was in life, the greater the sacrifice is supposed to be at their death. Their worth (measured in power and influence) determines their worship. What kind of gift does this god demand? At the root of worship lies worth.
The size of the gifts given by the nation of Israel revealed their evaluation of God’s worth. Their abundant liberality was a testimony to His infinite value. Beyond that, the fact that this generosity sprung from a willing heart revealed their understanding of His greatness.
Pay attention to the connection David makes in verse 5 between giving and consecration. By giving generously and willing, the people were consecrating themselves. “To consecrate” means to set something aside for God’s special service. When they gave these gifts, they weren’t merely setting the gifts aside for God’s service, they were setting themselves aside for God’s service.
What we do with our money is a barometer of how we view God. Our hearts and our wallets are inextricably connected. Your wallet doesn’t move unless your heart tells it to. Jesus pointed this connection out.
(Matthew 6:21, 24 ESV) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Our giving reveals what we ultimately cherish. Your bank statement is a more certain indicator of your affection for God than your raised hand is during the singing. When we give willingly, freely, without grudging, we testify that God is more valuable than our money. We make a statement to the watching world and to the cosmic powers that our God is infinitely more satisfying than anything I could purchase. No possession and no experience can rival the place of God in my affections. You could take all of the treasures in this world, pile them in a pit as deep as the sea, and I would not trade one moment with my God for all of them.
David and the people’s willing and generous offering was the overflow of genuine worship.
Overflowing worship is seen in their joy
(1 Chronicles 29:9 ESV) Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced greatly.
If the center of worship is worth, then the test of worship is delight. Where do I find delight? What is the source of my joy? We could maybe ask it this way: what has captured my heart? The people of God had given their whole heart to the Lord. He was chief in their affections. Their worship was not the offspring of duty but the overflow of delight.
Verse 9 paints a picture in our minds of a congregation that is grinning from ear to ear. As they bring their gifts and offer them to the Lord, they are bouncing up and down with excitement. Some are even crying tears of joy as they consecrate themselves to the Lord.
Worship without feeling is not genuine. Worship without feeling is dead emotionalism. Worship that fails to engage the affections is empty religious ritual.
Men, if you were to take your wife out to a nice dinner (not McDonalds or Taco Bell), buy her a dozen red roses, but then did not smile once the entire evening, how successful would that date be? Would your wife feel like you value her? Would your wife feel like she is worth something to you? Delight is the true measure of worship. Your wife knows you value her when you delight in time alone with her.
You can attend worship services for the next 50 years, never missing one, but if you never feel something, you have not worshipped! Jesus told his disciples that He came so that His joy might be in them, and that their joy might be full (John 15:11). So, if your affections are never engaged in worshipping God, if your heart is cold and unmoved, you are missing what Jesus came to give.
The nation of Israel experienced this joy in worship because they gave their hearts fully to God. We often equate joy and freedom. There’s something to that. Not the freedom this world promises—freedom from responsibility, freedom from relationships, freedom from anything meaningful—but joy and freedom are companions. Joy comes when we’re free from enslavement. When we can do something of great worth without constraint, we find incredible joy.
The Israelites were free from the enslaving love of money and could give their hearts freely to God. Their joy came from freely, fully and generously giving themselves to God. Their worship overflowed in generosity and in joy.
Overflowing worship is seen in their prayer (10-19)
(1 Chronicles 29:10–19 ESV) Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.”
True worship is not self-centered, but self-forgetful. This prayer is the overflow of a heart that is so engaged in worshipping God that it cannot think of itself. David could only talk about God. He calls God the owner, the giver, the enabler, the enjoyer and the keeper.
His prayer begins by affirming God’s ownership of all things. God owns all greatness, power, glory, victory and majesty. Think about that: all victory belongs to God. Any victory someone else experiences is only because God loaned victory to them. In case he wasn’t thorough enough, David declares (v.11), that all things in heaven and earth belong to God. As Abraham Kuyper wrote: “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, 'That is mine!'”
God is the owner, and He is also the giver. He is the one who gives riches and honor (v.12). He makes great and gives strength. David is prompted to stop and simply say “thank you” (v.13) when He considers God’s gracious gifts.
If God is owner and God is giver, it leads David to a logical conclusion. All that he and the people had just given God was already God’s. The only reason they could give this offering to God was because God worked in them. Look at verse 14 again:
(1 Chronicles 29:14 ESV) “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”
Genuine worship looks beyond what we do and sees all that God has done. It sees His hand at work even in our right decisions. It sees His kind sovereignty at work behind the scenes equipping and empowering every good work. Authentic worship testifies solely of God’s greatness.
God takes joy in our worship. He tests our worship to see if it is genuine and when it is, He takes delight in it (v.17). Our joy in worship gives God joy. God Himself enters our joy in worship. He is pleased. He is blessed when we give ourselves fully to Him. God is not in heaven examining our worship with a scowl, but enjoying our worship with a smile.
Both man and God find their greatest joy in the worship of God. God alone is satisfying. God alone can fill the deepest longing of the soul. We find our greatest joy when we join the joy of God in the worship of God.
David’s prayer ends with a plea for God to continue this work in the hearts of the people and the heart of the future king, Solomon. His request acknowledged that true worship is empowered by God Himself. God even deserves the credit for our heartfelt worship. True worship attributes everything to God, even the motive and power for worship. True worship is radically God-centered!!
I can’t help but think about how different this prayer is from the one prayed in the temple by the self-righteous religious leader in Luke 18. He stood up in front of the amassed worshippers and claiming to worship God, exalted himself and his own righteousness. What a far cry from David whose heart was so completely captured by God that he couldn’t stop talking about Him. Even as he talked to God, David couldn’t stop talking about God.
Overflowing worship is seen in their affirmation (20-22)
Look at how the worship service ended.
(1 Chronicles 29:20–22 ESV) Then David said to all the assembly, “Bless the LORD your God.” And all the assembly blessed the LORD, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the LORD and to the king. And they offered sacrifices to the LORD, and on the next day offered burnt offerings to the LORD, 1,000 bulls, 1,000 rams, and 1,000 lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel. And they ate and drank before the LORD on that day with great gladness.
The service ended with the congregation affirming all that David had said about God. Corporately, they responded to the truth about God.
Together they affirmed His worth.
Together they bowed to His authority.
Together they rejoiced in His service.
Together they sacrificed in His presence.
There is great power in corporate response to truth. Something unique and special happens when the people of God together overflow in powerful praise. There is power in the unified worship of God’s people.
Let me stop for a moment and make an observation: You don’t get this in front of your television on Sunday morning. You don’t get this watching a preacher on a video screen. You don’t get this having a worship service in your living room. This only happens when you meet together with the people of God. There is great power in hearing voices around you declaring the greatness of God. There is great power in joining your voice to a congregation of brothers and sisters who together are affirming the unmatched worth of God.
I would love verse 22 to be the description of every Redeemer family’s Sunday lunch.
(1 Chronicles 29:22 ESV) And they ate and drank before the LORD on that day with great gladness.
Isn’t this the type of worship you long for? Isn’t this what you come to church hoping to find? Worship that is so powerful and so profound that it overflows in joy, praise, prayer, giving and celebration. Worship that completely captures your heart. Worship that draws you into something so much grander than yourself. Worship that leaves you eating and drinking in great gladness before the Lord.
The Motivation for Overflowing Worship
How does this kind of worship happen? How does worship move past duty to delight? How can our worship overflow into life-transforming celebration?
To answer this question we need to burrow deep, all the way down to the level of motivation. We need to determine what motivated this overflow of worship. If we want to experience this type of worship then we need whatever motivated the Israelites to worship like this. If the Israelite band was really rocking and that produced this worship, we want to make sure our band is rocking. If the Israelite laser light show produced this overflow of triumphant worship, then we want to invest in the greatest laser light show possible. What motivated their worship?
Turn back one chapter to 1 Chronicles 28. Now look at verse 6. God spoke to David and He told David:
(1 Chronicles 28:6 ESV) ”It is Solomon your son who shall build my house.”
Their worship was motivated by the revelation that God would dwell with His people. The jubilant worship by the people of God was their response to God’s gift of Himself. God was going to build His house in the midst of His people. His house (the temple) is where He would dwell with them.
Ever since Adam and Eve sinned and were expelled from the presence of God, mankind has experienced a longing to reenter God’s presence…a deep-seated yearning to be invited back into a relationship with Him.
Because of sin, this longing was unfulfilled. Our infinitely holy God could not dwell with incredibly wicked sinners, like the Israelites, and like you and me. The temple was an invitation back into God’s presence. The temple was where God would meet man. God’s invitation produced Israel’s celebration. The invitation of God produces the celebration of man.
God would build His house in their midst. The God that existed before time, the God who sits upon the circle of the earth, the God who owns all things, would build His house in the midst of this people. The temple was a way back to God.
But it was something more. It was a picture of something that existed before. The temple is intended to remind us of how things were before sin. The temple is a picture of life in the Garden of Eden. It’s a return, in some ways, to the Garden relationship with God.
Life before sin was centered on the presence of God. God would invite the man and woman to walk with Him in the Garden. When mankind sinned, they were expelled from the Garden and alienated from God. The temple was a way of restoring humanity’s lost relationship with God.
Pointing Ahead to Christ
The temple points us back to the Garden of Eden. It reminds us of how things were supposed to be, and it reveals that God was working to restore what was lost. The temple was God’s invitation to mankind to come again into His presence.
But in pointing us back to the Garden, it points us ahead as well. In the Garden, a promise was made. God promised to fully restore mankind back to Him through a future Savior. The temple points us back to the Garden, and the Garden points us ahead to the coming Son. The temple ends up serving as a flashing neon sign to point us to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
God gave an invitation, through the temple, for mankind to again enter His presence. Now through Jesus Christ, He offers a superior invitation—an invitation to fully experience His presence just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden.
The temple was a witness to what God would do through Christ. God would dwell with His people through the work of the coming Son. This Son would be called Immanuel, which means “God with us.” Jesus is the way to enter the presence of God.
All that was symbolized in the temple was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The temple had candlesticks, but Jesus is the light of the world. The temple had loaves of bread, but Jesus is the bread of life. The temple had a high priest who entered God’s presence once a year, but Jesus is the high priest who ever lives in the presence of the Father. The temple had daily sacrifices for sin, but Jesus is the once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of all who would believe.
The temple was a standing invitation for Israelites to come into the presence of God. On this side of the cross of Jesus Christ, we don’t need to make a pilgrim to Jerusalem, we don’t need to enter the temple, and we don’t need to bring a sacrifice. God, through Jesus Christ, has extended an invitation—an invitation engraved with nails on a wooden cross—an invitation for us to come into His presence and enjoy Him forever. God, through Jesus Christ, will make His home, not in your country nor in your city, but in your very heart. Through Jesus Christ, He will take up residence in you.
Listen to what the writer of Hebrews wrote:
(Hebrews 10:19–22 ESV) Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Jesus has blazed a trail back into relationship with God. He has undone the separation between God and man. By coming through Him, we can offer our hearts fully to God in worship. Do you want your worship of God to overflow in celebration? You must accept God’s invitation.
Friend, you may be here and you’re not a Christian. I want you to know that God is extending an invitation to you right now through these words I’m speaking. He’s calling you to come to Him. Leave your sin and come to Him. He invites you to enter a relationship with Him. He’s very serious about it. So serious that He sacrificed His own Son to make it possible. He offered His Son, Jesus Christ, in your place to take your punishment so that you could come to Him. Come today.
Brothers and sisters, I hope your heart longs for this type of worship. I hope the vision of worship that delights in the glory and greatness of God is compelling to you. If so, let me remind you that it’s not dependent on the songs we choose or the calmness of your Sunday morning. Overflowing worship comes from proper motivation. God’s invitation through Jesus Christ is the only thing that can cause you to overflow in celebration. Invitation produces celebration.
So, let me urge you to regularly and carefully remind yourself of God’s greatness, your unworthiness and Jesus’ invitation to you. On Saturday night or Sunday morning, stop to consider how great God is, how sinful and wretched you are, and how this great God has still extended an invitation to you to come.
In fact, don’t just do it on Sunday morning, remind yourself every morning. Your whole life is worship. Whether you eat or drink do all for God’s glory. Don’t forget, don’t overlook God’s invitation.
When John turned 18, he took his college fund and left home. Instead of using it for college, he wasted it on parties and clubs. It wasn’t long until the money ran out. And when the money ran out, so did John’s new friends. Feeling ashamed, John didn’t head home. He started looking for a job.
This was after the recession, and he struggled to find work. Eventually he found a minimum wage job bussing tables at a seedy nightclub. He made just enough to get a dirty room at a local hotel. Often he didn’t have enough money for food, so he would sneak food off the plates as he cleaned off the tables.
One night, fed up with this life, he hatched a plan. He would head back to his hometown. He wouldn’t move back home (he was sure his parents wanted nothing to do with him), but he would see if one of his dad’s many friends in town would give him a job. After all, anything had to be better then this.
He scraped enough together for bus fare, and headed back home. As he got off the bus, he made up his mind to head to his parent’s house and ask his dad to help him land a job. Maybe he’d be willing to make a few phone calls.
His parents lived on a cul-de-sac, and as John walked down their street, he remembered all of the good times he had growing up there. His reminiscing was interrupted by the noise of a screen door slamming shut. John looked up and saw his dad sprinting through the lawn, past the old oak tree and right towards him. Before John had a chance to speak, his dad swallowed him in a bear hug.
The next few hours were a whirlwind as John’s parents called all their friends and neighbors and invited them to a party. The fine china was pulled out of the cabinet, steaks were thrown on the grill, and cake was ordered from the bakery. That quiet little neighborhood had never seen a party like the one John’s parents threw that night.
Jesus said that when a prodigal comes home, his father throws a party. What motivates a party like this? An unexpected and undeserved invitation.
Lifeless, dead, unengaged worship happens when we come to the party like the prodigal’s older brother. We come hardened in self-righteousness believing we deserve an invitation to the Father’s house. Oh, that we would come to our Father like the prodigals we are. What worship we would have.
There is a God who is high and lifted up, whose holiness makes the mountains shake, and whose power makes the demons tremble. He looks at a miserable, vile wretch like you, and like me, and He says, “Come! Come to the feast! Come to the party!” His invitation motivates our celebration.
This sermon was originally preached at Redeemer Community Church in 2012.