Canadian Idols Part 5
The Audience of One
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 27, 2003

 

Main Passage: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 (NLT)

 

This is our fifth and final week in our series on Canadian Idols. Of course, youíve got to wait until September 16 for the finale on CTV, but this is it for us. Over the past several weeks weíve talked about a variety of things which can become idols for usÖ things which vie for our attention and which can become the focus of our livesÖ money, popularity, pleasure, possessions, happiness, fame, family, career, religion. Have any of these taken the place of God in your life and pushed Him of of the way? Have any of these become an idol for you? What are you chasing?

VIDEO Ė E-ssentials v.4 n.4 "Rat Race"

 

This past week the third group of ten competed to become finalists on Canadian Idol. One by one the performers would step up to sing. They would sing for the four judges. They would sing for the other nine competitors. They would sing for Ben Mulroney and the rest of the crew. And they would sing for an estimated 2.2 million people across our nation.

They were performing for a huge audience, and whether they were successful or not was determined by the number of people in the audience who called in to vote for them. Thatís the nature of the show.

But who do you perform for? In everyday life, whose approval is most important to you? Who is your audience? Because when all is said and done thereís only one vote that counts, and I would suggest that you perform for that audience of One. Because ultimately itís not the applause of the crowd that mattersÖ itís the approval of our God.

So this morning weíre going to talk about performing for this Audience of One Ė What does it take to live for God and God alone? And as we go, weíll identify five keys to performing for the Audience of One. And you can use the notes provided in your Sunrise update this morning to follow along. Okay? Letís go.

 

What is Involved in Performing for the Audience of One?

 

1. Decide Who You Want to Please: God or Others

The apostle Paul is known as one of the greatest Christians of all time. Heís the man primarily responsible for spreading Christianity beyond the Jewish community. He wrote half of the books in our New Testament. He is someone who lived to please God.

But that wasnít always the case. When weíre first introduced to Paul in the book of Acts he was watching and condoning the mob execution of a believer named Stephen. Paul was very much opposed to the early church and made it his mission to arrest or kill as many Christians as he could.

At the time, he was going by the name of Saul. And he was a very religious person. He followed all the religious laws and was quite proud of it. And as he traveled around trying to wipe out the early Christians, he gained the approval of many of the Jewish religious leaders and Roman officials who felt threatened by Christianity. And he did all he could to continue to please them.

Until the one day when this fellow met the Saviour, and he knew that He was much more than a myth. It was then He gave his life to Jesus, chose to live for him alone.

From that point on, Paul ticked off a lot of people. In fact, he received death threats, had rocks thrown at him, was arrested and imprisoned, and eventually he was killed for his faith. Check out what he wrote in Galatians 1:10Ö

Galatians 1:10 (NLT)
Obviously, I'm not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ's servant.

When I was a teenager (which Iím beginning to realize was a long time ago) I used to listen to the Christian Rock group Petra, and thereís a song they used to sing based on that verse right there. It was called ďGodpleaserĒ, and in it Bob Hartman wrote these words:

So many voices telling me which way to go,
So many choices come from those who think they know.
Thereís a way that seems right to a man but it only brings him death,
I wanna go the way that leads to life, till I draw my dying breath.

I just want my life to glorify His Son,
To Make my Father proud that Iím His child before Iím done.
No need to pat me on the back or stop to shake my hand,
I just want to hear my Father say, ďWell done, well done.Ē

~ Godpleaser performed by Petra, written by Bob Hartman

 

Thatís the first thing about performing for an Audience of OneÖ decide if you want to be a people-pleaser or a God-pleaser. If you want to perform for the Audience of one, you need to be a God-pleaser.

The second key isÖ

 

2. Recognize that God is Watching

Now, Godís not a cosmic killjoy. Heís not watching with the intent to zap you anytime you mess up, but He is watching. He sees your deeds, and more importantly He sees your heart. He knows your thoughts and your motives. Nothing is hidden from Him. So what you need to ask yourself is, ďIs God pleased with what He sees?Ē

1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)
The LORD doesn't make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person's thoughts and intentions.Ē

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT)
For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are. Nothing in all creation can hide from him. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done.

Okay, so God sees and knows everything about you and me. We canít hide from Him, we canít deceive Him, we canít fool HimÖ He sees everything clearly and knows everything about us. So if thatís true, what is God looking for?

What qualities and characteristics do you think He wants to see in our lives? What would please Him?

PARTICIPATION

(e.g. Humility, devotion, honesty, selflessness, holiness, faithfulness, mercy, loveÖ)

The third key isÖ

 

3. Enter Godís ďSecret ServiceĒ

Thereís a series of things Jesus says in Matthew 6Ö Let me read them for you.

Matthew 6:1 (MSG)
ďBe especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding.Ē

Matthew 6:3-4 (NLT)
But when you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.

Matthew 6:5-6 (NLT)
ďAnd now about prayer. When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.

Matthew 6:16-18 (NLT)
ďAnd when you fast, don't make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, who try to look pale and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I assure you, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will suspect you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in secret. And your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.

In other words, donít brag about the good things you do. Donít draw attention to the fact that you are praying, fasting, or giving to the needy. Donít do things just for the recognition you can get for it. Now, sometimes people will recognize what youíre doing, and thatís okay. As long as thatís not your motivation. Make it your primary motivation to serve God out of love and obedience whether anybody else ever finds out about it or not.

You have a choice. When you give to the needy, when you pray, when you fast, when you serveÖ (and by the way, itís ďwhenĒ you do these things, not ďifĒ)Ö do you do it for the applause you can get from others or do you do if for the applause you can get from the Audience of One?

God is our audience of One, and we are all part of the band. We are not here to entertain or impress people, but to worship God.
~ Peter Thomas, minister of Brentwood Baptist Church, Essex, UK

Here's the challenge: this week you and I are going to see a need that we can meet ó someone we can pray for, someone we can serve, some opportunity to be generous, some opportunity to live out our faith ó and we are going to practice being in Godís Secret Service. Try doing something to meet a need without telling anyone about how you did it. Now, Iíll never find out if you did it or not, so this is on the honour system. But decide this morning to make it your goal this week to serve someone without gaining any recognition or praise in return.

What are some examples of ways we can serve other people in secret?

PARTICIPATION

(pray, mail money, send card, help with groceries (without drawing attention to it), etc.)

 

4. Make it your goal to please God in every circumstance of life

Hereís the dealÖ those verse I read in Matthew, they talked about rewards. If you do things, even good things, just to gain the applause and approval of others, then their applause and approval will be your reward. Itís not that you wonít be rewarded, but your reward will be limited to that.

On the other hand, those same verses teach that if you do the things you do because of your love for God and your obedience to Him, without your primary motivation to be recognized and slapped on the back, then you will receive a great reward in Heaven. Because God sees what you do in secret.

So what you need to do is decide which reward you want? Do you want your 15 minutes of fame, or do you want to be rewarded out of Godís glorious riches in Heaven?

Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

In Acts 4, the apostles Peter and John were arrested for preaching about Jesus and were brought before a council including all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law. They ordered Peter and John to stop spreading the message about Jesus. But listen to how they responded:

Acts 4:19-20 (NLT)
ďDo you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard.Ē

Now, this isnít an excuse to rebel against authority and break laws and thumb your nose at people. But it is a great example of choosing to please God regardless of the consequences. Peter and John could have been thrown back in prison, and they could have even be killed, but they resolved to obey God rather than any authority that would tell them otherwise. They were going to please God in each and every circumstance.

ďUltimately, we live our lives before an audience of one. It is what He thinks that counts the most.Ē
~ Dr. James L. Wilson

"I live before the Audience of One. Before others I have nothing to prove, nothing to gain, nothing to lose."
~ Os Guinness

 

5. Continually evaluate if your thoughts, attitudes, motives, words and actions are pleasing to God

Itís easy to fall back into performance mode where youíre more concerned about what people will think about you than you are about what God thinks. So every day determine that you are going to live for God and serve Him only. Regularly reflect on your life and evaluate where youíre at. Are you doing things out of love and obedience to God, or are you more interested in the affirmation and approval of the crowd?

Ephesians 5:6-10 (MSG)
Don't let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don't even hang around people like that.
You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true--these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.


When Iím working on the computer, Iíve learned to save my work often. Thereís nothing worse than losing hours of work to a computer crash. Well, there are probably a few things worse, but I canít think of any right now. But the point is, when Iíve done so much and Iíve come so far, I donít want to have to start over. I donít want to lose what Iíve accomplished.

And when Iíve focused so much on building a relationship with Jesus Christ and Iíve worked so hard at serving Him and pleasing Him, I donít want to lose it all by slipping back into my old ways.

I have a friend who is trying to quit drinking. And heíll do really well for a while but then heíll give in and have a bottle of rum. Then he has to start all over again. In order for him to experience freedom, he needs to commit each and every day to stay sober and not give in to the temptation which will bring him temporary pleasure.

In order for me to perform for my Audience of One, I need to commit each and every day to focus on pleasing Him and living for Him, no matter what. And that means I need to regularly look at my life and evaluate how Iím doing. And every once in a while I may discover that the applause and approval of others has become more important to me than the applause and approval of God, and when that happens I need to refocus.

The overwhelming desire of my life is to please my Saviour. And that may mean that I need to do some things or say some things that are unpopular and that even offend, but thatís okay. Because while Iíd like for everyone to be happy with me, thatís not my main focus. I want to first and foremost please my God.

ďWhen you play to an audience of one, the applause never ends.Ē
~ Donald S. Whitney

 

Just as we wrap up here, I want to play a song for you. Iím going to show the lyrics up here on the screen, and I want you to take this opportunity to reflect on your life and determine who youíre living for. Are you living for the crowd, or are you living for the Audience of One?

 

Audience Of One
By Greg Ferguson

Verse 1
It's such a strong temptation to live for man's applause
But I don't want to buy into the lie
'Cause I know that's not a worthy cause
So to keep things in perspective I hung a sign upon the wall
The sign is nothing special but it really says it all
And the sign saysÖ

Chorus 1
I'll be content to serve an Audience of One
Only His approval counts when all is said and done
And this is my prayer when the race is finally run
I want to hear well done from the Audience of One

Verse 2
But drive for recognition starts to get the best of me
All I've got to do is look around at the people serving selflessly
And they don't serve for glory
And they're not keeping score
There's a sign that's written on their hearts
A sign I've seen before

(BRIDGE)
In the not too distant future
When the crowds all fade away
I'll stand alone before my Lord
And this is what I long to sayÖ

Chorus 2
I'm overjoyed to serve an Audience of One
It's what I've been created for ever since day one
And this is my song as I bow before Your throne
I love to hear well done from the Audience of One
So this will be my prayer 'til the race is finally run
I want to hear well done
I long to hear well done
I want to hear well done
From the Audience of One

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